WWF Spring 2021 Digest

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TIGERS X TWO In 2010, only 3,200 tigers remained in the wild. Then the 13 tiger range countries, with help from WWF and partners, banded together to change the trajectory of this endangered big cat. 20 / THE LEOPARD NEXT DOOR 24 / CLOSING THE GENDER GAP

SPRING 2022


P R E S I D E N T’S L E T T E R

“The sustainable future of the planet we call home demands … nothing short of everything we can offer.”

With every passing year, more scientific evidence accumulates that we are facing the destruction of our planetary systems at a scale not seen since the last ice age. One implication of this reality is that we need to accelerate our work to match the speed of that destruction. The other implication is that we need to operate at a scale

what it means to be big enough: In 2010, leaders in 13 tiger range countries made common cause with NGOs like WWF to reverse the steep decline of wild tiger populations over the past 100 years. That year, we joined a goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022 in an initiative dubbed TX2. And we’re seeing real progress.

that can bend the curve of destruction before it’s too late. That means taking on issues that are global in nature, creating replicable and adaptable models, and then driving with unrelenting focus to deliver those models at a pace and scope that will make a difference. In the pages of this issue, you’ll find one example of

Certain areas of Bhutan are recording their first-ever tiger sightings. In India, all tiger reserves—including 14 newly created sites—are now managed using international best practices. Tiger populations in Russia’s Land of the Leopard National Park have tripled. All of which reminds us that if you work with local communities and like-minded partners

© BHUTAN DEPARTMENT OF FORESTS AND PARK SERVICES

Big enough to matter


SPRING 2022

to reduce poaching pressures and give tigers the space they need, they can thrive. Another example of going big is that many nations have advanced a commitment to inclusive, rights-based, and effective conservation, with the goal of increasing the portion of their geographies under conservation to 30% by 2030. The targeted amount will include protected areas, sustainable use areas, Indigenous reserves, and other types of conserved land. Against that goal, known as 30x30, an array of approaches—from creating single parks to financing entire national conservation area systems—has emerged. In both examples, a coalition of groups came together to define an objective and execute a plan, creating a template that others followed in delivering results that are big enough to matter. This kind of conservation helps fulfill our promise as an organization and offers a glimpse of a world where people and nature thrive together. The sustainable future of the planet we call home demands all of this and so much more. It demands nothing short of everything we can offer.

EDITORIAL SENIOR EDITOR Alice Taylor EDITOR, DIGITAL EDITION Alison Henry WEB PRODUCERS Victoria Grimme, Isabelle Willson, Ellie Yanagisawa CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Teresa Duran, Karl Egloff, Molly M. Ginty, Jennifer Hanna, Terry Macko, Maura McCarthy, Brie Wilson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Ali Evarts, Kate Morgan, Simone Scully, Stephanie Vermillion, Sara Curnow Wilson ART ART DIRECTION AND DESIGN Page 33 Studio CONSULTING ART DIRECTOR Sharon Roberts CONTRIBUTING PHOTO EDITOR Jennifer Anna PRODUCTION PRODUCTION MANAGER Mick Jones VOLUME 10, NUMBER 1 (ISSN 2330-3077) World Wildlife is published quarterly by World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. Annual membership dues begin at $15. Nonprofit postage paid at Washington, DC, and additional mailing offices. LEARN MORE Visit worldwildlife.org to learn more about World Wildlife Fund and what you can do to help. CONTACT US editor@wwfus.org © 2022 WWF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY WORLD WILDLIFE FUND, INC. WWF® AND ©1986 PANDA SYMBOL ARE OWNED BY WWF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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CARTER ROBERTS PRESIDENT & CEO

WWF’s mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. WWF’S vision is to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature. PRESIDENT & CEO Carter Roberts EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Alex MacLennan PUBLICATIONS DIRECTOR Sarah Forrest PUBLICATIONS EDITOR Ananya Bhattacharyya EDITOR Erin Waite EDITORIAL INTERN Madeleine Janz

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U P D A T E

OCEANS WORLDWIDE

FATAL FISHERIES Alarm sounds for threatened sharks and rays When commercial fishers haul in a longline—a stretch of baited hooks sometimes 20 miles long—they often find more than they bargained for. Sharks and rays frequently get tangled in the gear and are dead by the time the line is checked. Accidental capture, or bycatch—common in various fishing methods—is just one reason shark, ray, and chimaera populations are plummeting. An update to the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species last spring added nearly 40 more of these species to some 315 already at risk of extinction, largely due to overfishing. Recovering these species will require coordinated conservation strategies among multiple regional management bodies. WWF’s efforts include working to protect nursery habitats, improve global fisheries governance, reengineer fishing gear, and train fishers so that fewer nontarget species are caught or killed accidentally.

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© JEFF ROTMAN/NATUREPL.COM


© ISTOCK.COM/SL_PHOTOGRAPHY

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TRAVEL WITH WWF

Discover the Peruvian Amazon: Our deluxe riverboat glides for miles down the Amazon’s shimmering tributaries between banks lush with dense rain forest. We explore in skiffs and on foot, looking for pink river dolphins, monkeys, sloths, macaws, and butterflies. Scores of marsh birds hunt from shore; fish teem in lagoons covered in giant lily pads. Travel to the Peruvian Amazon and other amazing natural places around the world and encounter rare and stunning wildlife—all while supporting and learning about WWF’s global conservation efforts. Other South America adventures include trips to the Galápagos, the Pantanal, and Patagonia.

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Honey is a versatile commodity: The sticky natural sweetener goes with everything, from chamomile tea to chicken wings, and is often used as a substitute for processed sugar. It can be a powerful tool for conservation, too, benefiting local communities and ecosystems alike.

ACRES Total land clearing or cultivation required for beekeeping.

MAN WITH HONEYCOMB © WWF/SIMON RAWLES; PACKAGED HONEY © ISTOCK.COM/BORCHEE; HONEYCOMB © PULSE/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

IMPACT

HOW SWEET IT IS

HIVE-LIHOODS

By investing in sustainable honey harvesting projects, WWF helps communities reduce their impact on at-risk or depleted ecosystems, such as forests and fishing grounds, while also supporting alternative livelihoods that increase their income.

GREEN HONEY?

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1/12 TSP.

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In Sumatra’s Thirty Hills landscape, WWF and partners are working with the Talang Mamak people to expand traditional honey production in one of the last rain forests. A new project allows consumers to trace individual jars of honey to specific harvesters and trees to ensure the honey they buy came from a forest- and wildlife-friendly source.

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Conventional honey production can stress bee colonies by using oversized hives to encourage more production or by harvesting honey during the wrong season. In more sustainable methods, beekeepers may leave part of the hive alone to increase long-term production or harvest honey from naturally occurring hives.

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D I S C O V E R

C O S TA R I C A

IN PRAISE OF SMALL THINGS Captivated by the unexpected Small creatures run the show in Costa Rica’s rain forests: They pollinate flowers, decompose and return nutrients to the soil, act as prey for larger animals, and help support the country’s astounding biodiversity—including all seven of Central America’s tropical cats. While ocelots, jaguars, and pumas often comprise visitors’ most hoped-for wildlife sightings, I find that it’s the miniature forest dwellers—from leafcutter ants to poison arrow frogs—that truly captivate. I’ve yet to meet a nature enthusiast who’s not awestruck by the blue morpho butterfly, for instance, which oscillates between a prismatic bright blue and mottled brown with each beat of its iridescent wings. As someone who has studied entomology and is drawn to the smaller stuff, I hope that visitors to Costa Rica can’t help but remember these tiny jewels as a highlight of their adventures. — Court Whelan

Want to travel to Costa Rica with WWF? Learn more at worldwildlife.org/ExploreCostaRica2022.

© COURT WHEL AN

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STRANGER THINGS

WHAT’S A MATA? When it comes to living in river ecosystems, few animals are as well adapted as mata mata turtles. These nocturnal reptiles are perfectly camouflaged for their murky freshwater surroundings—and, like many turtles, they can hold their breath for a long time. When mata matas need to breathe, they can simply lift their snorkel-like snouts to the water’s surface to sip in some air. 1 5

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TOP VIEW OF TURTLE © LIFE ON WHITE/AL AMY STOCK PHOTO; SURFACING TURTLE © ISSELEE/DREAMSTIME.COM; TURTLE FACE © RUNE MIDTGAARD

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WHAT WILL YOUR

SPLITTING UP

Until recently, scientists believed the mata mata turtle was the only remaining species in the genus Chelus, but new research has shown that those living in the Amazon basin (Chelus fimbriatus, left) are genetically distinct from those living in the Orinoco basin (Chelus orinocensis, above).

MATA MATA TURTLE Chelus fimbriatus RANGE

Northern South America, primarily in the Amazon and Orinoco rivers

SIZE

Up to 1.5 feet long

WEIGHT

Up to 38 pounds

DIET

Fish and other small animals

1 SNOUT A tubular nose allows the turtle to breathe from beneath the water’s surface. 2 MOUTH The turtle’s wide mouth opens with a vacuum-like force that sucks in water and prey. 3 HEAD Its flattened head and bumpyskinned neck resemble leaf litter, helping it blend in with muddy river bottoms.

4 SHELL A ridged caraHABITAT pace, typically covered Bottom of rivers in algae, camouflages and other shallow, the turtle. slow-moving freshwater 5 EYES Mata matas have weak eyesight, so rely on sensory nerves around their head to “see” their surroundings underwater.

© CHRIS & MONIQUE FALLOWS/NATUREPL.COM

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© ANDY ROUSE/NATUREPL.COM

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THANKS TO ONE OF THE MOST AMBITIOUS CONSERVATION EFFORTS IN HISTORY, THE BIG CATS ARE MAKING A COMEBACK by K I R S T E N W E I R

TIGER © ANDY ROUSE/NATUREPL.COM

additional reporting by MADELEINE JANZ

WITH A FEARSOME combination of stealth and strength, tigers hardly give off an impression of vulnerability. But shrinking habitats, increasing contact—and conflict—with people, and a booming illicit trade in tiger parts have driven these powerful predators to endangered status. By 2010, an estimated 3,200 tigers survived in the wild—a faint shadow of the roughly 100,000 that roamed Asia a century earlier. Today the big cats are found in less than 5% of their historical range. Yet as we usher in the lunar Year of the Tiger, there’s reason for hope. “Since tiger met man, the population has been in decline,” says Stuart Chapman, leader of WWF’s Tigers Alive initiative. “Until a moment about five years ago, when the population stabilized and began increasing.”


The remarkable progress made since 2010 to secure a brighter future for wild tigers was made possible by many generous supporters, including those listed below. Thanks to their commitment, the world’s wild tiger population is showing signs of recovery, and we have a clear idea of what needs to be done over the next decade to continue supporting this trend.

© NITISH MADAN/WWF-INTERNATIONAL

Anonymous Donor • The Bedari Foundation • The Katherine J. Bishop Fund • Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs from the State Department • Leonardo DiCaprio • Discovery, Inc. • Global Environment Facility • Michael J. and Stacey Grealish • Green Climate Fund • Humanscale Corporation • Kevin and Jeanette Kennedy • Linda A. Mars • Philipp Family Foundation Charitable Trust • The Praxis Companies/American Bath Group • Robert and Mayari Pritzker Family Foundation • Stiefel-Behner Charitable Fund • US Agency for International Development • US Fish and Wildlife Service

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THE TURNING POINT WAS NO ACCIDENT.

GLOBAL TIGER NUMBERS 2 0 1 0 2 0 1 6

3,200 3,900

2 0 GOAL: 2 2 ACTUAL: TO BE ANNOUNCED

6,400

ahead of the Global Tiger Summit in September 2022

IN 2010, the governments of the world’s 13 tiger range countries came together in St. Petersburg to create a blueprint for tiger recovery. With increased leadership from them—as well as support from conservation organizations, donors, and the communities who live in tiger territory—things are looking up for this culturally and ecologically significant species. From that first-of-its-kind summit came an international commitment to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. Known as TX2, the initiative has always been an ambitious one, says Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at WWF. But not an impossible one. “The goal was grounded in innovative science,” she says. “WWF helped lead the way by developing the latest maps of where tigers existed and where they had potential for long-term survival, and by working with communities to develop a framework of strategies to address the threats.” Those efforts are paying off. The last official population estimate, in 2016, showed tiger numbers had increased to around 3,900. India, which is home to more than 60% of the wild tiger population, has seen significant growth in tiger numbers in the past decade. Populations are also on the upswing in Bhutan, China, Nepal, and Russia. The key in those countries is collaboration with local communities, as well as political commitment from the top tiers of government—backed up by adequate funding and resources. “High-level support for tigers is a game changer,” says Chapman. “Where that is in place, we’ve seen steady progress towards realizing TX2.” 11


BIG CATS DEPEND on big habitats—an especially tough proposition in Asia, a continent that is home to more than 60% of the world’s people and is experiencing rapid habitat loss and fragmentation. Tigers need undisturbed areas with access to clean water and ample prey; an individual tiger’s home range can extend hundreds of square miles. Given their habitat requirements, most of the world’s surviving wild tigers now live within protected areas. To ensure that protected areas are managed in ways that lead to effective tiger conservation, WWF helped support the development of the Conservation Assured|Tiger Standards (CA|TS). This framework contains a set of criteria for measuring and improving management of tiger conservation areas. But because tiger ranges are increasingly overlapping with human-dominated landscapes, tiger conservation strategies must stretch far beyond parks and protected areas. Tigers need corridors through which to travel to stake out new territories and prevent inbreeding; conserving the connectivity of these corridors is crucial for protecting tigers in the long run. In some places, safe passages can be created by collaborating 12 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE

IN RUSSIA’S LAND OF THE LEOPARD NATIONAL PARK, THE TIGER POPULATION HAS TRIPLED IN THE PAST 10 YEARS—TO 30, UP FROM 10 IN 2012. Dedicated funding from the Russian government, with support from WWF, has allowed for increased antipoaching patrols and strategically placed camera traps and has helped secure the park’s official status as a wildlife corridor. In this wellconnected landscape, Amur tigers can move freely across the border to China, increasing their access to food and potential mates and encouraging population growth on both sides of the border.

© VL ADIMIR MEDVEDEV/NATUREPL.COM

Yet in Southeast Asia, tigers remain in crisis. In the past 20 years, tigers are believed to have become extinct in Cambodia, Viet Nam, and Lao PDR. The population in Thailand appears to be stable, even increasing, but elsewhere numbers continue to fall. Across the region, serious threats remain. A growing human populace is squeezing large predators into smaller pockets. Meanwhile, a snaring crisis is stripping forests of wildlife, including tigers and their prey. And although the big cats are a protected species, there is a thriving illegal trade in their parts. In short, there’s a lot more work left to do, and WWF is addressing the challenges at every level. We’re supporting government initiatives to secure protected habitats and stop wildlife crimes, as well as bolstering community-led efforts to help Indigenous people live with and protect the iconic cats in their midst. Tiger counts are now underway in several range countries, and the next population estimate will be released at the second Global Tiger Summit in Vladivostok, Russia, in September of this year. It’s not expected that the global population will have hit that TX2 goal—yet. But there is real momentum, and doubling the population is within reach, says Hemley. “It’s not a question of whether we can get there, but when.” Moreover, Chapman says, “if we can get living with tigers right, we have a formula not just for tiger conservation, but for conservation as a whole.”


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Pradeep Khanal, a project officer with WWF-Nepal, shows off a tiger captured on camera in Nepal’s Terai Arc landscape. 14 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE


with local communities to restore natural forests. In areas where habitats have been degraded—crisscrossed with roads and infrastructure or transformed for agriculture or mining— enhancing connectivity might mean safeguarding other land uses, like sugarcane fields and rubber plantations, that tigers can pass through. It often takes a combination of creative thinking and local partnerships to create a mosaic of safe spaces for tigers, says Ashley Brooks, who worked with the WWF Tigers Alive initiative on human-wildlife conflict issues. “We’re focusing a lot of our work outside protected areas to ensure we can maintain that connectivity,” he says.

© GARY VAN W YK/THE GINKGO AGENCY/WHISKAS/WWF-UK

AN ESTIMATED 880 TIGERS LIVE ALONGSIDE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN AND AROUND THE TERAI ARC LANDSCAPE (TAL), A STRETCH OF 14 PROTECTED AREAS IN INDIA AND NEPAL. To reduce human-wildlife conflict in this ecoregion, WWF-Nepal has helped build watchtowers from which people can spot approaching wildlife. WWF-Nepal also supports insurance programs that cover local people’s costs related to injuries received or livestock lost as a result of human-wildlife interactions. Together with other efforts, such as developing alternative livelihoods that decrease pressures on forests, these measures helped tiger numbers in the TAL’s protected areas climb 33% between 2014 and 2018.

TIGERS ARE CULTURALLY significant everywhere they live. That doesn’t mean they’re easy to live with. And as tiger populations recover, the big cats are more likely to have run-ins with humans. “Many protected areas in Asia are surrounded by a sea of humanity,” says Nilanga Jayasinghe, a WWF wildlife conservation manager focused on Asian species. “When tiger numbers increase, tigers move out of these areas in search of their own territories and then must often navigate through landscapes inhabited by people. That’s when they may get into conflict situations.” But such conflicts aren’t inevitable. The WWF Tigers Alive initiative developed the SAFE Systems approach to reduce human-tiger conflict by minimizing risks to people and their assets and risks to wildlife and their habitats. Because the circumstances around human-wildlife conflict can vary widely from place to place, approaches to addressing it must be specific to each individual context, Jayasinghe says. In one village, the focus might be on minimizing livestock predation and preventing retaliatory killings by adding bright lights or predator-proof pens, combined with policies and compensation schemes that support communities when tigers do take livestock. Elsewhere, WWF might help people find alternative livelihoods that don’t require them to forage deep in tiger territory. “In every case, WWF advocates for integrated, holistic approaches to managing human-wildlife conflict—approaches that should be monitored consistently to gauge their effectiveness,” says Jayasinghe. “Communities are very much essential partners in implementing these measures.” Managing conflict also means focusing on the positive effects of tigers, not just the risks. Communities near protected tiger areas can earn income from ecotourism, for instance. It’s also important to help policy-makers recognize the less obvious benefits of habitat protection, such as clean water and climate change mitigation, says Hemley. “The people 15


side of the equation is critical,” she says. “Unless we address the needs of people at the local level and really find ways for people and tigers to coexist, we won’t be successful long term.”

—Naresh Tharu

Citizen scientist with WWF-Nepal

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By the N U M B E R S

6,000 Number of tigers currently in captivity in China. The flow of tiger bones, skins, and other products derived from captive tigers perpetuates consumer demand for tiger parts, which in turn increases poaching pressures on wild tigers.

> 120 On average, number of illegally trafficked tigers (or their equivalent parts) that have been seized each year between 2000 and 2018, according to a recent report by WWF partner TRAFFIC.

30% Percentage of tiger parts seized in trade from 2012 to 2015 that likely came from captive sources. WWF has successfully advocated for policies to end the illegal production, transport, and trade in tiger parts and is working to ensure the governments of China, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam shut down their tiger farms.

NARESH THARU © WWF-NEPAL; TIGER © ANTON VORAUER/WWF

“In my village, when people are unemployed, they may resort to poaching, illegal logging, and other such activities due to their [economic] situation. This is why I believe it is so important that there are opportunities for employment.”

TOGETHER, POACHING and the illegal tiger trade represent one of the biggest threats to tiger recovery. On average, parts and products from at least two tigers are seized from the illegal trade each week. Many more go undetected. Tens of millions of snares are set each year in Southeast Asian forests, including inside protected areas. This snaring crisis is emptying forests of wildlife and indiscriminately killing both tigers and the prey they depend on. Every bit of the tiger body is in demand for uses ranging from ornamental tiger-skin rugs to folk medicine products like tiger bone wine. “Tiger trade is like Whac-A-Mole. As soon as you clamp down in one place or one market, something else pops up,” says Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy and wildlife conservation at WWF. To chip away at the problem, WWF approaches it from multiple angles, such as investing in community patrols to monitor protected areas and deter poachers and educating consumers to reduce demand for tiger products. WWF is also working to put an end to tiger farms, Henry says. Illegal products made from captive-bred tigers are indistinguishable from those made from wild tigers, complicating enforcement and maintaining the market for tiger products. Meanwhile, the organization advocates for stronger wildlife crime prevention laws and for better enforcement of those laws. “As long as there’s demand for tigers, they’ll be poached in the wild,” Henry says. “We’re working to ensure that wildlife crime is treated as a serious crime, offenders are prosecuted, and deterrent sentences are handed down.”


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lakes and rivers oceans EAR

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Saving the world’s freshwater fish

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change all strain freshwater ecosystems and their inhabitants. That’s why WWF and its partners have designed a freshwater biodiversity Emergency Recovery Plan. The steps are simple, but not easy: We must protect and restore free-flowing rivers and critical habitats; improve water quality; halt harmful overfishing, sand mining, and invasive species; and remove obsolete dams. Only with urgent, decisive action and all sectors on board—governments, local communities, businesses, and NGOs—can we ensure a healthy future for freshwater fish.

51% More than half of all known fish species live in freshwater; of those, around 30% are now threatened with extinction.

RIVER RECOVERY

One reason for hope? After poorly planned dams were removed from Maine’s Penobscot River, the native river herring population jumped from a few thousand to over 2.8 million.

© SCOTT CAMAZINE/AL AMY STOCK PHOTO

Fascinatingly diverse, culturally significant, and integral to the livelihoods of 60 million people worldwide, freshwater fish are an essential protein source for both people and iconic mammals, including Alaska’s grizzly bears and the Irrawaddy dolphin. They also signal ecosystem health—when fish are plentiful, ecosystems are often thriving. But freshwater fish are sending up an SOS. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has declared 80 freshwater fish species extinct, while migratory fish population numbers have fallen by three-quarters in the past 50 years. Threats overflow: Poorly planned dams, pollution, agriculture and irrigation, overfishing, invasive species, and climate


FIELD NOTES

T A H U A M A N U P R O V I N C E :: P E R U

FOREST-FRIENDLY FARMING A profusion of wildlife depends on Peru’s Madre de Dios region. But this 21 millionacre swath of Amazonian rain forest is increasingly threatened by deforestation. To counter this trend, in 2017 WWF and Peruvian government agencies partnered with livestock farmers in agricultural Tahuamanu Province on a pilot project to increase productivity and decrease ecological impact.

1 AGRICULTURAL FRONTIER

Tahuamanu Province is at the leading edge of agricultural conversion for livestock farming in the Madre de Dios region: The rate of deforestation doubled here between 2013 and 2016.

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2 TAKING STOCK

The WWF-led pilot program focused on improving practices for livestock management on 10 farms. The goal? Strengthen local capacity for sustainable land use and reduce deforestation rates.

1 © WWF-PERU/MARIA EUGENIA ARROVO; 2,3,4 © WWF-PERU

3 EVERYTHING ON THE TABLE By implementing sustainable livestock practices that they helped identify, the farmers were able to improve their production parameters, stop deforestation on their farms (such as the Fundo Colibrí farm pictured here), and free up land to return it to its natural state.

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4 GREENER PASTURES

Previously, cattle on these farms often walked long distances to graze, degrading the soil while necessitating the conversion of more forest. Pilot participants, however, began using electric fencing to subdivide their pastures into smaller plots. They rotate cattle through those plots every one or two days. Moving herds so frequently gives the soil and grass time to recover. Meanwhile, the dung left behind helps fertilize the grass. The first 10 farmers are now teaching more farmers in the region—over 200 so far—what they’ve learned.

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ALLEY CAT Turning a lens to life with leopards in a large metropolis A big cat pads through a corridor that, hours earlier, was bustling with people. This “urban leopard,” as I call it, lives in Aarey Colony near Sanjay Gandhi National Park, where more than 50 wild leopards and almost 90,000 people cohabit. I visited Aarey after hearing that conflict there was rising: Long-standing residents advocated for the leopards’ protection, while newer residents wanted the animals relocated. I decided to document this unique human-leopard relationship. To start, I set up a camera trap in an alleyway frequented by leopards. For months, I snapped images of leopards walking away from the lens. But just when I thought I would never get the right angle, I got this amazing shot. This photo shows how leopards have adapted to rapid development. As forests disappear, bringing people and wild animals into closer proximity, I think it’s our turn to adapt. — Nayan Khanolkar

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© NICOL AS VILL AUME/WWF-US

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G A L L E R Y

Photographs by Eduard Florin Niga

A couple of years ago, in a London park, photographer Eduard Florin Niga’s daughter asked him, “Do ants have eyes?” Niga answered her question by photographing as many ant portraits as possible, using a variety of magnifying camera lenses to capture each species’ quirks, like pincers, iridescent skin, and hairy faces. Ants aerate soil and provide food for bigger animals, but Niga worries that people don’t care about these insects because we don’t often see them up close. His new book, Ants: Workers of the World, was published last May. His ongoing mission? “Photograph anything that’s too small to appreciate.”

HARPEGNATHOS SALTATOR worker


(clockwise from top left) POLYRHACHIS BECCARII worker | OECOPHYLLA SMARAGDINA worker | RHYTIDOPONERA METALLICA queen ECHINOPLA SP. worker | DORYLUS SP. male | DACETON ARMIGERUM worker 23


G E N E R A T I O N

N E X T

JOY HAYLEY MUNTHALI AGE 25 HOME Lilongwe, Malawi CAUSE Giving girls and young women an equal voice in responding to climate change. Pictured: Green Girls Platform participants from the Mzumanzi primary school.

When 19-year-old Joy Hayley Munthali was invited to a 2016 summit on gender and climate change in Malawi, she was ecstatic to learn from her country’s changemakers about her longtime passion: conservation. 24 WORLD WILDLIFE MAGAZINE

But the event’s gender inequalities infuriated her. “Out of 50 participants, just 10 were women,” says Munthali. She questioned organizers about the lack of female participation, but “they said girls and women weren’t interested.” Munthali, who was studying environmental science at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, knew that wasn’t true. As drought increasingly plagues Malawi, women must travel farther than ever to fetch water, Munthali says. “I knew girls from my community … that were interested [in conservation]—they just didn’t know how to participate.” That’s why Munthali launched the Green Girls Platform in 2016. The goal? To help young women take part in environmental decisionmaking through mentorship, networking, and workshops,

and to start conservation activities in their communities. The result? Astonishing growth, grassroots change, and major accolades. Munthali was named in the inaugural Top 100 Young African Conservation Leaders List (cofounded by the Africa Wildlife Foundation, World Scouts Movement, World YMCA, and WWF). Through the 3,000member platform, young women have curbed plastic waste, launched climate justice clubs, and adopted environmentally friendly agriculture methods at home. And, true to Munthali’s original vision, members have participated in high-level discussions on climate change. Munthali hopes the momentum will help other marginalized activists find the courage to make their voices heard too.

COURTESY OF GREEN GIRLS PL ATFORM

Green Girls Platform empowers girls to act on climate change


© ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

DIGITAL

WANT MORE? Find expanded content from this issue of World Wildlife on our magazine website at worldwildlife.org/magazine.

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER.

BE NATURE’S HERO You will help protect life on our planet when you join WWF Heroes, our special community of monthly donors who keep endangered species safe from extinction and conserve critical habitats—all year long.

ENDURING EARTH

Learn how a new approach to conservation funding is bringing long-lasting solutions to the biodiversity and climate crises in Bhutan, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, and beyond.

Whether you give $5 or $25 per month, you’ll be a hero for wildlife, nature, and people around the world. And you’ll be a hero to us. To join our community of WWF Heroes, visit

worldwildlife.org/heroes or call our team at

1.800.960.0993 OPPORTUNITY By investing in renewable thermal energy, a WWF-led collaborative is tackling a major industrial source of carbon emissions.

LEADERBOARD Carmen Busquets advocates and innovates for ethical and sustainable fashion.

LOVE LETTER While trekking in Turkey, a writer finds that nature is a balm for all wounds.

ENDURING EARTH © MICHELA BUTTIGNOL/WWF-US; BUSQUETS © ELEANOR SHAKESPEARE/WWF-US; BACKPACKER COURTESY OF KATIE NADWORNY

3


THE MASTHEAD

What’s on the cover? The stripes on the back of an adult tiger.

SOUTH CHINA TIGER Panthera tigris amoyensis February 1 marks the start of the Chinese zodiac’s Year of the Tiger. For many, the biggest cat in the world symbolizes strength, bravery, and ferocity. Despite this mythology, of all big cat species, wild tigers are the most at risk of extinction, and less than 5% of their historical range remains. The South China tiger, pictured here, is believed to be extinct in the wild. In Southeast Asia, the snaring crisis has emptied forests of tigers and their prey. Twelve years ago, the world’s 13 tiger range countries made a landmark commitment to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. It meant addressing shrinking habitats, humantiger conflict, and poaching. Since then, WWF and our partners have amassed significant funding, resources, and political will, and have supported greater community-driven protection of wild tigers. And while some tiger populations have grown significantly, with upward trends in India, Bhutan, Nepal, China, and Russia, these big cats are still widely threatened. In this issue, see how far we’ve come—and what more can be done to save this iconic species.

TIGER FUR © MARTIN HARVEY/THE IMAGE BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES TIGER © JOEL SARTORE/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO ARK