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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: and please share this campaign with family and friends. The world’s species are counting on you.






News Releases

Surveys funded by SOS lead to an increase of the known population of Yuanbaoshan firs

17 April 2015
Surveying for Yuanbaoshan Firs in the Natural Nature Reserve
Photo: FFI China

The known population size of the Critically Endangered Yuanbaoshan Fir (Abies yuanbaoshanensis) more than doubled following extensive surveys in Yuanbaoshan National Nature Reserve (NNR), China in 2014. IUCN Member, Fauna & Flora International’s Xiaoya Li explains what this discovery means and how it will influence their conservation.

SOS funded surveys completed in late 2014 have led to an increase of the known population of Yuanbaoshan Firs, from 280 to over 700 individuals, which included more than 250 saplings. This finding has more than doubled the known global population of the species.

Before the 2014 survey, the understanding was that there had been a significant and rapid decline in the Yuanbaoshan Fir’s population. This conclusion was based upon various surveys conducted over the previous 30 years which recorded a decrease in population size from 900 individuals in 1982, to 589 in 1997 and just 280 in 2012.

These surveys did not all use the same methods, however, so to what extent these figures represent real changes in population over time or, reflect trees that were not incorporated in previous surveys is hard to judge. The fact that recent count included 250+ saplings is an encouraging sign that the species is reproducing in the wild and that the population may well have increased in recent years. The new global population estimate of 700 individuals, all of which occur at one site, means the species remains a high conservation priority.

Abies yuanbaoshanensis GIB Yuanbaoshan NR. Photo: Dingtao FFI ChinaThe questions regarding reliability of previous data reinforces the need for the capacity building element of the SOS project, where in-country partners are training and mentoring Yuanbaoshan NNR staff. The support from SOS is helping to build the technical capacity of the reserve team, allowing them to consistently monitor the reserve’s population of trees and informing where the NNR chooses to monitor in the future which, is contributing to the development of effective Rangers excited about taking photos and using GPS - skills to do patroling and monitoring. Photo: Yang Jiqin-FFImanagement strategies for the species.

The continued support to the NNR staff provided by the project partners and SOS is vitally important for the on-going conservation of the Yuanbaoshan Fir and particularly for the next steps which will focus on propagating seedlings to re-introduce into the wild.

Visiting the community Yuanbaoshan fir nursery near Yuanbaoshan NR. Photo: Hu Xinhua from GIBIt is clear that the Yuanbaoshan Fir still face significant on-going threats which, are heightened by its limited distribution. The team is building upon its new skills to initiate a long-term monitoring system based on the data gathered in the 2014 surveys, which will allow local conservationists to track the population more accurately and, inform any conservation actions apply to the entire population.

About SOS

Protecting threatened species is critical because we are protecting parts of our life support system. Wildlife and nature supply is with so many basic necessities from food to fuel and shelter, but also inspiration in art, language and design to name but a few examples. Right now we are protecting more than 200 species please contribute to SOS to help us continue to protect more of our natural heritage.

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Commercial agriculture and forestry could have a net positive impact on biodiversity – IUCN report

16 April 2015
Photo: IUCN/Deviah Aiama

A new IUCN study examines, for the first time, how commercial agriculture and forestry production could reduce global biodiversity loss by applying innovative approaches already used by some companies in the extractive and infrastructure industries.

The report, No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact: Approaches for Biodiversity, finds that under certain conditions, applying No Net Loss (NNL) and Net Positive Impact (NPI) approaches to agriculture and forestry landscapes associated with companies’ operations and supply chains could have a greater impact in reducing biodiversity loss than in other sectors.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, agriculture impacts 8,482 threatened species globally, while forestry impacts 7,953 threatened species, compared to the infrastructure and extractive sectors, which impact up to 4,688 and 1,692 threatened species respectively.

Adopting the NPI approach would require companies in the agriculture and forestry sector to take a systematic and scientific approach to evaluate their biodiversity impacts, establish biodiversity conservation goals and implement actions to realise these goals, according to the report.

Report examines No Net Loss and Net Positive Impact approaches in commercial agriculture and forestry. Photo: IUCN“The NPI approach goes beyond responsible management practices to ensure measurable conservation impact,” said Gerard Bos, Director of IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme, which oversaw the report. “With today’s growing demand for food, fibre, fuel and forest products, it is imperative that these sectors recognise their biodiversity impacts and implement action plans to become more sustainable.”

Both NNL and NPI are increasingly recognised as biodiversity goals for development projects that strive to either balance the biodiversity impacts (NNL) or outweigh the negative impacts with conservation gains (NPI). The NPI approach involves using a mitigation hierarchy for managing biodiversity risk. The report concludes that an NPI approach could potentially be applied by companies operating in the agriculture and forestry sectors where the goal is to enhance or protect native wildlife, including species of conservation concern, and improve crop diversity, crop productivity and the efficiency of natural resource use on-site, combined with protecting natural habitats off-site from conversion.

The report is an outcome of a working group convened by IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme in 2013 that brought together experts on this issue from both the business and conservation communities. It builds on the experience of the extractives and infrastructure sectors, and on the ongoing sustainability efforts in the commercial agriculture and forestry sectors. The next step is to pilot the NPI approach in suitable agriculture and forestry sites.

For more information please contact:

Leigh Ann Hurt
Communications Officer, IUCN’s Global Business and Biodiversity Programme
Tel: +41 22 999 0113
Mobile: +41 22 297 0162

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Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi to Boost Environmental Information for Decision-makers

14 April 2015
Sandbanks in the Wadden Sea, Netherlands
Photo: ESA

Over 650 delegates from government, UN bodies, the non-governmental sector, private sector, academia and civil society will gather in Abu Dhabi between 6 and 8 October for the Eye on Earth Summit 2015, to bridge the information gap policy makers face in designing plans for sustainable development.

The experts gathered will explore solutions and actions necessary for greater access to, and sharing of, environmental, social and economic data to support sustainable development. The Summit will address the profound impact that rapid economic and industrial development is having on natural resources, biodiversity and consumption patterns around the world. These global challenges require international collaborative action to find transformative solutions that span political boundaries and help secure a sustainable future for all. One of the critical first steps – and the focus of Eye on Earth Summit 2015 - is to address the need for evidence-based decision-making that can benefit from the available wealth of scientific data, information and knowledge, if they are made more accessible to all.

“Sustainable development across the globe is being hindered because policy makers lack access to data that would improve decision-making,” stated HE Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. “This Summit will develop ways of closing the data gap between what citizens and decision makers need to know, and what is available and accessible. It will look at solutions for greater access to, sharing and application of environmental, social and economic data through science, technology and citizen participation.”

EoE 2011 Plenary. Photo: EoEEye on Earth is a collaborative effort between the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi through the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), and the Eye on Earth Alliance, a partnership of organisations that aim to build and mobilise global support for access to environmental data. As part of its ongoing expansion, the Alliance has recently grown to include, in addition to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), the International Union for Opening of the EoE Exhibition in 2011. Photo: EoEConservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Resources Institute (WRI).

"IUCN is pleased to be part of the Eye on Earth Summit,” says IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “The Summit offers a rare opportunity to shine a spotlight on the importance of supporting knowledge products, such as the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so that they can deliver the critical data to guide the post-2015 sustainable Tibesti Mountains, Central Sahara. Photo: ESAdevelopment agenda.”

The announcement of the Summit dates follows a meeting of representatives from the Eye on Earth community in Bonn, Germany to provide input into the development of indicators to track some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and to discuss how to support the data and information needed to implement them. A set of 17 goals with 169 targets, the SDGs cover a broad range of sustainable development issues, including ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.

The work of Eye on Earth is expected to be pivotal in providing the necessary data required to measure the progress and impact of the SDGs, with current and future Special Initiative (SI) projects aligning closely with them to ensure the provision of relevant, timely and accessible information.

“This year world leaders will convene for a number of major sustainable development events, among them the Summit for the Adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and the climate change conference in Paris,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “The decisions made at these meetings will shape the way forward on sustainable development and climate action for years to come.”

“For leaders to make the right decisions in such global processes, reliable, ample and timely data is absolutely essential. One of UNEP’s key roles has long been to work with partners to provide the data that informs this science-policy interface,” he added. “Partnerships such as Eye on Earth are living proof of the new frontiers in knowledge and data, as well as the leadership role that Abu Dhabi has shown in this endeavour.”

A global audience will participate in the Summit and contribute to the dialogue via online and social media tools. Information on how to take part in the event will be shared via the Eye on Earth website.

For further information please contact:

Lynne Labanne


Getting Outdoors in Paris with the Terre Sauvage Nature Image Awards Exhibition

10 April 2015
The most beautiful nature images of 2014
Photo: Fabien Chenel

The city of light just got a bit more colourful with the recent launch of the Terre Sauvage Melvita Nature Images Awards 2014 in association with IUCN and SOS - Save Our Species.

Located at the Parc Floral de Paris, in the Bois de Vincennes and running until 30 September 2015, visitors can explore a variety of large wildlife photography prints presented outdoors on a series of 53 all-weather panels while enjoying the park’s natural environs.

Featuring the winners of various categories, such as Man and Nature and Species Stories, the photographs include single shots, portfolios and storytelling series. Winners include seasoned professionals as well as new talent.

Being an international competition, there are winning images from all four corners of the world – nature red in tooth and claw can be exotic irrespective of its origin.

Set in nature. Photo: Fabien ChenelFor example, French photographer Philippe Lebeaux’s amazing photo of a tiny insect facing a drop of water is a photo taken near a pond in the Rhône-Alpes region of France.

Meanwhile IUCN Bourse winner for 2015, Pete Oxford’s series poetically documents the relocation of elephants in Kenya. Elephant relocation is a big job and a big news item considering the increasing threat of extinction to elephants Get up close with 53 winning nature images in Paris in 2015. Photo: Fabien Cheneldue to poaching by international criminal organisations.

Thanks to prizes such as the EUR 4,000 Terre Sauvage IUCN Bourse, photographers like Pete Oxford and in previous years Steve and Ann Toon as well as Samantha Owen have been able to cover important wildlife conservation stories by visiting SOS funded project sites in Belize, Thailand and South Africa respectively.

Peter Oxford. Photo: Terre SauvageTheir photography and reportage helps illustrate the often untold stories of those working on the frontlines of conservation and brings us closer to the issues at hand. To read Steve and Ann Toon’s article about Siamese Rosewood poaching click here.

As a result of this year’s prize, Pete Oxford is travelling to Belize to cover a story about Hammerhead Shark conservation along the Meso-American reef system.

In the coming weeks he will be visiting an SOS-funded project implemented by Mar Alliance to document the team’s work and seek out the rare and elusive Hammerheads of Belize. That story will be featured in an upcoming Terre Sauvage edition in 2015.

For the meantime, nature lovers and photography enthusiasts visiting Paris can find the Nature Image Awards exhibition at Esplanade du Château de Vincennes Road Pyramid, Bois de Vincennes - Paris 12th Arrondissement.

And why not download a free digital copy of the Terre Sauvage IUCN Special Edition, available in English, to view on the way to the exhibit by clicking the link to the right of this article.

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World Forum on Natural Capital calls for ground-breaking case studies

09 April 2015
Mangrove ecosystems are valuable assets.
Photo: IUCN-Imene Meliana

Organizers of the second World Forum on Natural Capital, including IUCN, have issued a call for case studies that demonstrate how putting natural capital at the heart of decision-making can benefit companies’ bottom line, as well as the environment.

The announcement was made at the “Advancing Natural Capital Accounting in Government, Business and Finance” event taking place this week in Washington, DC. The outcomes from this meeting are expected to contribute to the Forum, which will be held 23-24 November in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Submissions are sought from businesses, financial institutions, governments and other organizations that have developed their understanding of natural capital to bring about a strategic change in decision-making. Case studies must have a clear focus on environmental benefits, supported by a strong business or economic case, and involve lessons learned that are relevant to a wider audience.

IUCN’s Director General Inger Andersen is serving as an Ambassador for this year’s Forum, and an op-ed that she published earlier this year on this issue can be found here.

For more information about how to submit case studies, please see the Forum’s website. The closing date is Friday, 29 May 2015.



Strengthening the network of botanists in the South and East Mediterranean

08 April 2015
Ranunculus coronaria. Palestine
Photo: B. Al-Sheik

The project “Conserving wild plants and habitats for people in the South and East Mediterranean" launched in October 2014 is moving ahead. The Scientific Institute of the University Mohamed V of Rabat (Morocco) hosted the first workshop with the experts that are going to document the conservation status and distribution of selected rare and threatened plant species in ‘Important Plant Areas’ especially in those countries where information is insufficient (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine).

The main objectives of this workshop were to establish and strengthen the network of botanists in the South and East Mediterranean, and to define and harmonize the method of species data collection as well as to validate species lists to inventory in the field.

The participants, mainly coming from scientific research institutions in their respective countries, also collaborated in the drafting of the Communication Strategy and its Action Plan for this project. The workshop allowed experts to carry out a test on the agreed inventory methodology in the field at the Important Plant Area of Maamora forest.

The project is focused on Important Plant Areas (IPAs); sites of international importance for plants - a sub set of Key Biodiversity Areas. IUCN and Plantlife are working together with members of the commissions, mainly the IUCN Mediterranean Plant Specialist group and numerous in-country partner organizations.

After this first phase of data collection, the next step will be to identify the conservation measures to adopt in the field. These IPA conservation projects aims at demonstrating what may be possible across the region when authorities and citizens are empowered to work together for plant and habitat conservation.

This three year project is funded by the MAVA Foundation and with components supported by EuropeAid and the Ernest Kleinwort Foundation.

For further information please contact Marcos Valderrábano.

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Marine Mammal Symposium in Phnom Penh: Drawing lessons for trans-boundary dolphin conservation

08 April 2015
Irrawaddy Dolphins in Koh Kong, Cambodia
Photo: Petch Manopawitr

While more research is needed to assess the population and trans-boundary movements of dolphins along the Thai-Cambodian border, local fishing communities should be closely involved in the monitoring and protection of Irrawaddy dolphins and other cetacean species. Promoting sustainable fisheries, along with strengthening local monitoring networks, are among the key activities that will help protect these species, which are important indicators of the health of coastal ecosystems.

These were the conclusions of the Marine Mammal Symposium at the 9th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation Asia-Pacific Chapter, which was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from 30 March to 2 April 2015. The symposium on Local and global challenges to conserving threatened tropical marine mammals in Asia brought together researchers from South and Southeast Asia to share information and approaches for dolphin conservation and, in particular, to inform IUCN’s trans-boundary dolphin conservation project.

“To address one of the most pressing challenges for coastal dolphins in Thailand and Cambodia, which is entanglement in fishing gear, we need to work with local communities to get their support and cooperation. Local communities can be the champions for dolphin conservation,” said Chalatip Janchompoo, Marine Biologist at the Eastern Gulf of Thailand Marine and Coastal Research Center, Thailand's Department of Marine and Coastal Resources.

Presenters and organizers of marine mammal symposium in dedication to Thailand's departed marine mammal expert, Dr Kanjana Adulyanukosol, senior scientist at the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources. Photo: Petch ManopawitrThe project will encourage sharing of information between Cambodia and Thailand to increase understanding of the trans-boundary dolphin movements, population and shared threats. “Coastal dolphins in Trat areas are truly significant but they are facing serious threats as indicated by a very high number of dolphin carcasses found during the past two years. Research findings should be used to inform agreements on zoning and gear restrictions with local communities and to make fishing practices more sustainable not just for dolphins but for the long-term Marine Mammal Symposium at the ATBC Asia-Pacific Chapter Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Photo: Petch Manopawitrsustainability of marine resources,” said Petch Manopawitr, Deputy of IUCN Southeast Asia Group and the Project Manager.

At the project kick-off meeting, collaboration and data sharing between the two countries was discussed with representatives from Thailand’s Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and Cambodia’s Fisheries Administration, as well as the Director of Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary of Koh Kong, Cambodia. In addition, Rubaiyat Mansur of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project shared lessons and experiences from the long-term dolphin conservation and monitoring project in Southern Bangladesh.

“This symposium should be the beginning of continued sharing of information across borders. Strengthening mortality monitoring networks and building local awareness and capacity on both sides of the Thai-Cambodian border is key to conserving the threatened dolphin species in this trans-boundary area. We need to act quickly to ensure the survival of this internationally significant dolphin population,” said Brian Smith, Director, Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetacean Program, Wildlife Conservation Society and Asia Coordinator, IUCN SSC Cetacean Specialist Group.


  1. Dedication to Kanjana Adulyanukosol by Petch Manopawitr and Brian Smith
  2. Long Vu: Conservation status of cetaceans in Kien Giang biosphere reserve, Kien Giang province, Vietnam
  3. Lou Vanny: Conservation status of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Peam Krasop Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia
  4. Rubaiyat Mansur: Detecting the unseen through application of a robust mark-resight design for estimating humpback dolphin demographics in Bangladesh
  5. Chalatip Janchompoo: Population estimate of Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) using mark-recapture method in Trat Bay, Trat Province
  6. Surasak Thongsukdee: Study of Bryde’s Whale in the Upper Gulf of Thailand



Phenomenal mystery of migration solved in North America

07 April 2015
On average, Blackpoll Warblers fly non-stop for 2540 km over the Atlantic Ocean (Melanie; creative commons.

For decades, birders and scientists alike have pondered the mysterious disappearance of Blackpoll Warblers on the eastern coast of North America during autumn migration. It had long been suggesteded that they flew directly over the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean or even South America. Thanks to miniaturised tracking devices, a team of American and Canadian researchers has solved this mystery, proving these small 12g Blackpoll Warblers embark on non-stop flights averaging 2540 km over the Atlantic Ocean to their stopover and wintering destinations in northern South America. These amazing birds are able to accomplish this flight by nearly doubling their weight prior to migration, and taking advantage of favourable weather conditions.

The project was led by a team of universities and organisations including: University of Massachusetts - Amherst, the University of Guelph, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre, Acadia University, and BirdLife Partner, Bird Studies Canada.

Information such as this is vital to conservation efforts, not just for Blackpoll Warblers, but for numerous species around the world. By understanding how species are using the landscape at local and hemispheric scales at different times of the year, we can identify areas of critical importance for conservation efforts, and begin to understand how issues such as climate change may impact their survival. This story in particularly impresses the need for multi-national collaboration in the conservation of almost all North American bird species, a story that is echoed in conservation efforts around the world.

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News story written by Martin Fowlie, a Communications Officer at BirdLife International





Declining Great Apes of Central Africa Get New Action Plan for Conservation

07 April 2015
Central Chimpanzee
Photo: Ian Nichols

The number of gorillas and chimpanzees in Central Africa continues to decline due to hunting, habitat loss, and disease, combined with a widespread lack of law enforcement and corruption in the judicial process, according to a new conservation plan by IUCN, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), WWF, and partners.

The report titled Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of Western Lowland Gorillas and Central Chimpanzees 2015-2025 outlines the growing number of threats to these great apes across six range countries, including the finding that nearly 80 percent of great apes in the region occur outside of protected areas.

While national and international laws protect the Critically Endangered Western Lowland Gorilla and the Endangered Central Chimpanzee, both subspecies continue to be threatened by hunters and traders seeking to supply the illegal commercial market and demand for bushmeat, particularly in urban areas.

Habitat loss driven by the region’s growing human population and the expansion of extractive industries and industrial agriculture is another danger to great apes. And between the 1990s and 2005, Ebola outbreaks in northeastern Gabon and western Congo are thought to have killed thousands of gorillas and chimpanzees.

“The rainforests of Western Equatorial Africa contain most of the world’s gorillas and about one-third of all chimpanzees, and gorillas in particular are being severely and negatively impacted by human activities across their range,” said Dr. Fiona Maisels, WCS Conservation Biologist and a contributor to the plan. “This action plan represents a multi-dimensional conservation strategy to address the myriad of threats to our closest relatives.”

Western Lowland Gorilla Photo: Thomas Breuer / WCSMany of the actions proposed in the previous action plan published in 2005 were successfully implemented and have helped to slow the declines in the ape populations. However, the growing human population in the region coupled with the expansion of extractive industries and industrial agriculture are putting increasing pressure on the remaining great apes – so additional conservation measures are urgently required.

Map of combined range (in green) of Western Lowland Gorilla and Central Chimpanzee Photo: WCSBuilding on the previous action plan, the new strategy is the product of a regional workshop attended by 70 conservationists, scientists, wildlife health experts, donors, and wildlife authorities and protected area managers from Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo. Survey data collected between 2003 and 2013 were used to produce great ape population density maps across the entire range of both Western Lowland Gorillas and Central Chimpanzees to re-assess conservation priorities.

“Central African governments have demonstrated increased willingness to protect the dwindling populations of gorillas and chimpanzees," said David Greer, WWF’s Great Apes Programme Manager. “Now bold steps are needed to ensure that existing wildlife laws are upheld and that weak governance, which results in widespread impunity for wildlife traffickers, is eliminated, to give great apes the opportunity to survive and thrive.”

In the new plan, 18 landscapes are identified as critical for the continued survival of western lowland gorillas and central chimpanzees. These landscapes cover half the geographic range of these two subspecies, yet they harbor more than three quarters of the great apes remaining in the region.

Actions needed to protect the remaining gorilla and chimpanzee populations, and evaluate conservation success, include:

  • More effective management and protection of large areas outside of formally protected areas;
  • Increased law enforcement combined with improved legal frameworks and stiffer sanctions for poachers;
  • Coordination across all sectors on land use and protection of natural resources with a priority on conserving great ape populations;
  • Conservation advocacy for wildlife and law enforcement to effect behavior change;
  • An enhanced understanding of diseases such as Ebola to guide conservation actions;
  • Monitoring of great ape abundance and distribution, habitat loss, and illegal activities.

“The action plan will serve as a guide for range-state governments and their conservation partners in how best to protect the region’s natural heritage,” said Dr. Liz Williamson, Vice Chair of the Great Ape Section of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. “Decisions made today can ensure a brighter future for gorillas and chimpanzees, and the human communities that rely on biodiversity for their well-being.”

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Turning the tide on nest poaching of Timneh parrots in Guinea-Bissau

01 April 2015
The team provided care for the poached chick until it could be returned to its nest
Photo: Daniel Lopes

As another breeding season for Timneh parrots gets underway in the Bijagós islands, hopes are high that the nest monitoring team can build on the successes of the previous year. In late 2014 the return of a poached chick to its nest, and its re-adoption by its parents, provides a heart-warming conservation story and a tangible sign that the strategy of employing former parrot trappers is paying conservation dividends.

The Bijagós islands, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve off the coast of Guinea-Bissau, is home to the largest known concentration of nesting Timneh parrots, Psittacus timneh. This globally Vulnerable species is endemic to a handful of West African countries where the pet trade and habitat loss have taken a heavy toll on populations.

The poached chick appeared in a cardboard box Photo: Daniel LopesAs part of an SOS-funded project co-ordinated by the World Parrot Trust, an IUCN Member, several community members from nearby villages have been recruited to monitor and protect nests in the hope that their expertise, knowledge and connections within the local community will help turn the tide on parrot poaching.

Each year nests are being closely monitored, with regular visits by team members and time-lapse cameras trained on Ex-poacher Seco Baca Cardoso and Mohamed Henriques prepare chick for return to nest Photo: Daniel Lopesnest entrances. Last year, when the monitoring team encountered a nest with tell-tale machete marks around the cavity entrance they could do little but fear the worst – poachers had paid a visit. Manjaco, a fearless climber and former poacher, nimbly ascended the tree and confirmed the nest was now empty. The chick had been poached from virtually underneath the team’s noses.

In response, meetings were quickly held with community Seco Baca Cardoso returns the chick to its nest Photo: Daniel Lopesleaders to discuss the incident. Later, under cover of darkness, the chick arrived anonymously at the National Park headquarters in a cardboard box hung in a palm. The chick was clearly weakened and begging for food.

With few resources available on the remote island, the former poacher’s knowledge of how to care for a young parrot proved essential. Once it had regained strength, the decision was taken to return it to the nest in the hope that Returning home Photo: Seco Baca Cardosoits parents might return.

The outcome was far from certain as by this point several days had passed. A camera was trained on the nest and the team waited anxiously. It was with much relief that the team watched as the parents returned, cautiously entered the nest and resumed care of the chick. A couple of weeks later it fledged.

Safe and sound: a hidden camera confirms parents resuming care of the chick Photo: Daniel LopesDr. Rowan Martin, project coordinator with the World Parrot Trust’s Africa Conservation Programme concludes: “With a small and dwindling population on the Bijagós islands, even this seemingly minor boost to breeding success is significant.

More importantly, this series of events illustrates the benefits of engaging local communities directly with conservation and how people’s attitudes, and most importantly people’s actions, can change.”

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Species conservation requires significant and sustained investment to deliver meaningful benefits because so many people are involved and necessarily so. Please continue to give and to support this web of life. You can donate via the SOS donate button or extend your commitment to a monthly contribution in any of three major currencies.

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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.”

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