Issuu on Google+

The Babbler Number 42 - July 2012

One of few photos of the juvenile female Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis taken in the grounds of the Forest Inventory and Planning Institute in Hanoi in August 1994. This individual died a few days later. Photo: Jonathan C. Eames


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

The Babbler Number 42 - July 2012

CONTENTS

Working together for birds and people

BirdLife International in Indochina is a subregional programme of the BirdLife Secretariat operating in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. It currently has two offices in the region: Vietnam Programme Office Room 211-212, D1 building, Van Phuc Diplomatic Compound; 298 Kim Ma street, Ba Dinh district, Hanoi, Vietnam P.O. Box 89 6 Dinh Le, Hanoi, Vietnam Tel: +84-4-3 514 8904 Cambodia Programme Office #9, Street 29 Tonle Basac, Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia P.O.Box: 2686 Tel/Fax: +855 23 993 631 www.birdlifeindochina.org

• Comment • Features

Saola still a mystery 20 years after its spectacular debut Is the saola extinct?

• Regional News

Key Biodiversity Areas in the Indo-Burma Hotspot: Process, Progress and Future Directions White-shouldered Ibis released at Western Siem Pang, Cambodia Edwards’s Pheasant declines to Critically Endangered New Energy Plan Reveals Thailand Does Not Need Xayaburi Dam Or Other Forms Of Destructive Energy Hun Sen grants four economic land concessions

• Rarest of the rare

Indochinese Silvered Langur: Guardian spirit of the forest

• Project Updates

CEPF- Regional Implementation Team updates Results of 2012 Gurney’s Pitta survey Cambodia: The Destruction of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary

• Reviews

Mekong River Basin: Mobilising grass roots engagement and facilitating high-level dialogue for transboundary water management The Conservation Status of Gibbons in Vietnam

• From the archives Last chance for the Saola?

2


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

v

Comment

I

t’s now twenty years since British biologist Dr. John MacKinnon and Vietnamese colleagues Vu Van Dung, Pham Mong Giao, Nguyen Ngoc Chinh, Do Tuoc and Le Van Cham discovered the Saola during a survey of Vu Quang Nature Reserve (as it was then) in Ha Tinh Province Vietnam. Serendipity was a key force in the discovery of this animal: Having run-out of rice liquor, Cham was dispatched by his colleagues to buy more from a local village and returned with tales of unusual frontlets in local houses. Proof that alcohol sometimes is the answer! Once the initial furor surrounding its discovery had died-down the animal slipped back into relative obscurity. We know precious little more now than we did in the months and years following its discovery and we can be sure of little other than it must be rarer now than it was in 1992. However, there have been a number of positive recent developments, which we report in this issue of The Babbler. First was the recent formulation of a Saola Working Group under the auspices of the Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. Resulting, finally, in a coordinated approach to its conservation. A new technique has also been recently developed enabling DNA from blood extracted from the gut of leeches to confirm the identity of leech prey species. This gives real hope that the presence of such an enigmatic species as the Saola can at last be confirmed at a site. New protected areas have also been established in its range in Laos and Vietnam. During April, together with colleagues I was fortunate to visit the Phou Sithone Endangered Species Conservation Area in Xaychamphone District, Bolikhamxay Province, Laos. What makes this protected areas unique in the context of Saola conservation is that the driving force behind it establishment has been the district governor: a politician not a scientist. This is the location where the Wildlife Conservation Society Laos Programme is implementing the CEPF funded project entitled Protection of a priority population of Saola: flagship species of the Indo-Burma Hotspot. This project is one of six CEPF funded projects, with a total investment of over US $ 500,000, focused on the conservation of the Saola. The Babbler is the quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina. This quarter The Babbler was compiled by Tran Thi Thanh Huong Huong@ birdlife.org.vn and edited by Jonathan C. Eames, Eames@birdlife.org.vn. The views expressed are those of contributors and are not necessarily those of BirdLife International.

We also visited the capture site of Saola in August 2010 (see From the Archives). The professional and lasting curation of this specimen in a reputable collection is highly desirable, as to date the only professionally curated Saola specimen is in the Zoological Museum, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. And there lies another tale!

Jonathan C. Eames OBE Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina 3


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

FeatureS

Saola still a mystery 20 years after its spectacular debut

T

wo decades after the sensational discovery of a new ungulate species called the Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis, this rare animal remains as mysterious and elusive as ever. The Saola Working Group (SWG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, WWF and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) warn that the species is sliding towards extinction because of intensive hunting pressure and poor reserve management. A cousin of cattle but resembling an antelope in appearance, the Saola was discovered in 1992 by a joint team from Vietnam’s Ministry of Forestry and WWF surveying the forests of Vu Quang, near Vietnam’s border with Laos. The team found a skull with unusual long, straight horns in a hunter’s home and knew it was something extraordinary. The find proved to be the first large mammal new to science in more than 50 years, and one of the most spectacular zoological discoveries of the 20th century.

Female Saola at Lak Xao, Bolikhamxay Province, Laos, 1996. Photo: William Robichaud

Patrol team with wire snares collected in saola habitat, central Laos (NakaiNam Theun National Protected Area), 2009. Photo: William Robichaud

While development is encroaching on the Saola’s forest habitat, the greatest threat comes from illegal hunting. Saola are caught in wire snares set by hunters to catch other animals, such as Sambar Deer Rusa unicolor, Muntjac Deer Muntiacus spp. and civets, which are The difficulty in detecting the animal has prevented largely destined for the lucrative wildlife trade driven by scientists from making a precise population estimate. traditional medicine demand in China and restaurant and “If things are good, there may be a couple of hundred food markets in Vietnam and Laos. Since the discovery of Saola out there,” says William Robichaud, Coordinator the Saola, Vietnam and Laos have established a network of the IUCN Saola Working Group. “If things are bad, the of protected areas in the animal’s core range and some population could now be down in the tens.” reserves are pursuing innovative approaches to tackle Twenty years later, little is still known about the Saola’s ecology or behaviour. In 2010, villagers in the central Laos rampant poaching. In the Saola Nature Reserve in province of Bolikhamxay captured a Saola, but the animal Vietnam’s Thua Thien Hue Province, a new approach to forest guard co-management is delivering positive results. died several days later. Prior to that, the last confirmed record of a Saola in the wild was in 1999 from camera-trap Since February 2011, the team of forest guards patrolling the reserve have removed more than 12,500 snares and photos in Bolikhamxay. 4


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

FeatureS

Saola still a mystery ....(continued) close to 200 illegal hunting and logging camps. “Saola are extremely secretive and very seldom seen,” says Nick Cox, Manager of WWF-Greater Mekong’s Species Programme. “While they inhabit a very restricted range, there is still no reported sighting of a Saola in the wild by a scientist, and the handful of Saola that have been taken into captivity have not survived.” The Saola is an icon for biodiversity in the Annamite mountain range that runs along the border of Vietnam and Laos. This biodiversity hotspot boasts an incredible diversity of rare species, with many found nowhere else on the planet. In addition to the discovery of the Saola, two new species of deer, the Large-antlered Muntjac Muntiacus vuquangensis and the Truong Son Muntjac Muntiacus truongsonensis, were uncovered in the Annamite’s rugged, evergreen forests in 1994 and 1997 respectively. Efforts to save the Saola have reached a greater level of urgency since another of Vietnam’s iconic species, the Vietnamese Javan Rhino Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, was confirmed extinct in 2011 after the battle to save the last individual was lost to poachers. “If hunting levels can be significantly reduced, we are optimistic about the species’ prospects,” says Chris Hallam, WCS-Laos’ Conservation Planning Advisor. “This will require funds for more patrol boots on the ground in Saola areas, developing positive incentives for its conservation, and ultimately reducing consumer demand for wildlife meat and products. The Saola has made it to its twentieth anniversary, but it won’t have many more anniversaries unless urgent action is taken.” Issues involving species survival and conservation will be discussed at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea, from 6 to 15 September 2012 ---------Source: Maggie Roth, IUCN

Is the saola extinct?

L

EECHES MAY HELP FIND CRYPTIC, SUPPOSEDLY EXTINCT, AND EVEN NEW SPECIES

The use of remote camera traps, which photograph animals as they pass, has revolutionized research on endangered and cryptic species. The tool has even allowed scientists to document animals new to science or feared extinct. But as important as camera traps have become, they are still prohibitively expensive for many conservationists and require many gruelling hours in remote forests. A new paper in Current Biology, however, announces an incredibly innovative and cheaper way of recording rare mammals: seek out the leeches that feed on them. The research found that the presence of mammals, at least, can be determined by testing the victim’s blood for DNA stored in the leech. The story begins at the University of Copenhagen where geneticist Tom Gilbert and his team decided to test how long mammal blood stays in a satiated leech. They fed goat’s blood to aquatic leeches and then extracted the blood at various time intervals to see if they could identify goat DNA in the blood sample. Surprisingly, goat DNA could still be found in the blood for as long as the experiment lasted: four months. Although Gilbert told mongabay.com that past research suggested the blood may survive a year-and-a-half. “[The leeches] gorge and fill their crop, which is like a storage tank. In the crop there is very reduced microbial activity/enzymatic activity; it really seems designed as a natural preservative. [...] It’s the crop that does the preserving magic, and this evolved as a strategy to allow feeding once then resting, growing, reproducing,” Gilbert explains.

The tiger leech Haemadipsa picta in Borneo waits on land for passing prey, but new research shows its appetite for blood may be key for conservation efforts. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler

Next, Gilbert and his team decided to test the method in the field. But where to start? Vietnam’s Annamite Mountains are home to an astounding number of rare and endangered mammals, including several that were only discovered in the 1990s. The most important of these was the Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis, which has been described as among the most astounding new species of the last century (it was first announced in 1992). A forest bovine that resembles an African antelope, the Saola and its habitat has captured the attention of conservationists worldwide. So Gilbert and his team got their hands on 25 leeches from the Annamite Mountains and tested their cached blood for mammal DNA.

5


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Feature

Is the saola extinct? (continued) The results  They found mammal DNA in 21 of the 25 leeches (84 percent), including a number of surprises. Five of the leeches contained pig DNA and two of the leeches contained cow DNA, but the other 14 were more interesting. Three had drank the blood of the mainland serow Capricornis maritimus, a strange-looking goat-like animal that is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Six had sipped off the Chinese ferretbadger Melogale moschata, an important find as this species is impossible to tell from a similar species of ferret-badger by sight or camera trap. Four leeches had sucked on the Annamite stripped rabbit Nesolagus timminsi, a species that was only discovered in the late 1990s. So little is known about the beautifully-marked animal that it is listed as Data Deficient by the IUCN Red List. Finally one leech had lunched off a dwarf deer: the Truong Son muntjac Muntiacus truongsonensis, one of the smallest of the already-tiny muntjacs. The Truong Son

One of the only photos of a saola in the wild. Photo taken by cameratrap in 1999. Photo courtesy of William Robichaud

muntjac was only discovered by science in 1998, and like the Annamite striped rabbit is considered Data Deficient. Unfortunately, none of the leeches held the DNA of a Saola. But this, perhaps, isn’t surprising given the animal’s rarity and the small number of leeches tested. What the study did do is prove that blood from leeches can determine the presence of little-known cryptic species like the Annamite striped rabbit and the Truong Son muntjac. The study’s findings has piqued the interest of conservationists working to save the Saola, who have had little-to-no information on this species since its discovery in 1992: just one camera trap photo and a couple individuals captured by locals. In fact, the Saola is so elusive, scientists went from 2000 to 2009 with no evidence that the species still existed until one was brought into a village two years ago where it quickly expired. William Robichaud, the coordinator of the Saola Working Group, told mongabay.com that the leech study was “promising.” “In theory, from one block of forest we could collect a thousand leeches, blend them and do one test to see if any Saola blood and DNA was present. So it could be a highly efficient, cost-effective method to detect rare species,” he said, adding that finding a Saola will be “something of a needle in a haystack” given the amount of animals that leeches feed on and the Saola’s renowned scarcity.

And even if they get a positive test, Robichaud says it still leaves the conservationists wondering when the leech fed on the Saola. “A week ago? A month ago? A year ago? One of the next avenues of research for the Copenhagen team will be to get a handle on this.” Despite such limitations, the method could prove to be the best and cheapest way to track the Saola.

eat Tasmanian tiger. It’s something we hope to explore. The nice thing of the method is we can look at a generic DNA marker [so] we don’t have to pick a species up front. We can just say ‘let’s see what mammals are there.’ The point being, we could go to Tasmania, collect leeches, look at the total mammals in the area, and maybe hit lucky.”

And that’s not it. Gilbert says DNA found in the leeches could point researchers to new species as well. He explains: “If the leeches eat the animal, and we sequence it, The implications As important as this research may be for the we will find two results. Either a sequence that is known, or an unknown sequence. Saola and the other spectacular wildlife of With mammals, if it is the latter, it will the little-explored Annamite Mountains, it probably be similar enough to something could prove just as revolutionary in habitats worldwide. So long as there are leeches that else to give a hint (e.g. some kind of cat, feed on the blood of animals, Gilbert says the some kind of rabbit). What one then has to do is look at two options. Number one: it’s method could prove invaluable. It’s possible a discovered species that hasn’t yet been leeches could be used to see if well-known endangered species, like tigers or rhinos, still sequenced - to check this we find candidate animals, sequence them, and see if the roam various little-explored forests in Asia. sequence matches. Or number two: it’s an as yet undiscovered species. Here we can Leeches could even help cryptozoologists (literally those who study “hidden animals”) only give some rough description [...] we explore the presence of long-believed extinct can say, ‘hey we think there is some kind of animals. For example, most scientists believe unknown cat in the area.’ We can’t of course the Tasmanian tiger Thylacinus cynocephalus be more specific, but that’s the point of other methods.” has been extinct for decades, but unconfirmed sightings of this large marsupial So, not only could the leech help determine carnivore persist in Tasmania, Australia, and whether a species is gone for good, but even on New Guinea. Could leeches, which it might be able to tell us where to look are found both on land and in water in Tasmania, show whether the Tasmanian tiger for a new species, and what to look for (cryptozoologists interested in animals based still roams the wild? on local sightings and folklore, such as the “Absolutely,” Gilbert says, “if [leeches] like to Sasquatch of North America or the orang 6


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Is the saola extinct? (continued) pendek of Sumatra, might want to take note). The leeches tested in the Annamite Mountains were terrestrial leeches, but Gilbert says that aquatic leeches could also be tested for other animals, including fish, reptiles, and amphibians. Of course, the method in every habitat is limited to those species that leeches feed on, but it also appears to be limited to the leech’s last meal. Gilbert says that DNA from past meals are quickly overwhelmed by new blood, making DNA from old meals, or multiple ones, improbable to detect. But leeches are not the only animals that suck blood. Researchers are already working with similar DNA-extracting methods with mosquitoes, and ticks may be next. But Gilbert says the advantage of leeches is that they retain blood for so long. Still each bloodsucker may target its own set of victims. “We don’t now if the leeches have dinner biases, it may be that such biases need to be considered,” Gilbert says. In the future, such work may be able to tell researchers even more than whether or not an animal is in the area, it may also be used to answer the important question of how many of these animals are left. Gilbert explains that scientists are currently exploring what blood DNA from leeches may say about abundance.

As for the Saola, Robichaud says his group is moving forward on trying to track the elusive animal byway of leeches, calling the work “very exciting.” However he adds that the documenting the species, which is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, will still depend on multiple strategies, from camera traps to possibly dogs. “Until the efficacy of the leech method is demonstrated, and its strengths and weaknesses understood, we’ll keep pursuing all tools we have available,” Robichaud says. Such strengths and weaknesses will become clearer as more research is conducted. “We are kicking off other studies in various parts of Southeast Asia and Madagascar,” says Gilbert. “We hope others will too once they realize its really quite easy and cheap!” It may not be long before the leech becomes key in saving its victims from extinction ---------Source: Ida Boerholm Schnell, Philip Francis Thomsen, Nicholas Wilkinson, Morten Rasmussen, Lars R.D. Jensen, Eske Willerslev, Mads F. Bertelsen, and M. Thomas P. Gilbert. Screening mammal biodiversity using DNA from leeches. Current Biology. 22, R262–R263 (2012). Read the original paper here

White-shouldered Ibis released at Western Siem Pang, Cambodia

P

hnom Penh, Cambodia - On June 20th in Siem Pang District, Stung Treng Province, two White-shouldered Ibis, a bird species threatened with global extinction, were released into the wild by a group of conservationists from the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), BirdLife International Cambodia Programme and the Forestry Administration.

South-East Asia and Western Siem Pang is the world’s most important site. Now only a small population remains following massive habitat loss through deforestation, drainage of wetlands and the hunting of birds, eggs and chicks for food which leads to critical disturbance of vital feeding, roosting and nesting areas. For this reason the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has put the White-shouldered In early March, Forestry Administration Ibis in the category of Critically Endangered rangers in Western Siem Pang confiscated on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. three White-shouldered Ibis chicks from local Any species on the Critically Endangered list villagers, which had been taken from their could potentially become extinct within the nest before they were able to fly. BirdLife, next five years unless conservation strategies who work in conjunction with the Forestry are put in place to conserve them. Administration to provide a conservation programme for this species at this site, The majority of the global population of this arranged for the three birds to travel to the species occurs in Cambodia, primarily in ACCB near Siem Reap for rehabilitation. deciduous dipterocarp forests of the north Once fit and able to fly, the birds were to be and east of the country. The species is now later released at Western Siem Pang. extinct from Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia and southern China but very small The ACCB team made a thousand kilometre populations are also found in southern round trip to bring the chicks to their Laos and Indonesian Borneo. In 2011 a specially designed aviary at the ACCB. After Cambodian census revealed a total of little ten weeks observation and specialist care more than 600 birds. the centres’ vet and head wildlife biologist decided the birds were healthy, fully It is hoped that these released birds will feathered and exhibiting wild behaviour, join the wild population in Western Siem which is a priority to ensure these birds Pang and in time breed and help sustain this have the best chance of survival upon their important and irreplaceable population ----------release into the wild. Source: BirdLife International and Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity The White-shouldered Ibis is one of the (ACCB) most threatened large water birds in 7


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Targeting hunters to save Spoon-billed Sandpiper Data collected on birds at Meinypilgyno from 2003 to 2009 suggest that recruitment into the adult breeding population was effectively zero in all years apart from 2005 and 2007. Spoon-billed Sandpiper was uplisted to Critically Endangered in 2008, when the global breeding population was thought to be 150-320 pairs. In 2009-2010 this was revised to an estimate of 120-200 pairs.

Caught as “bycatch” by hunters, new conservation measures are protecting this species in Myanmar.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper. Photo by Espen-Lie-Dah. www.saving-spoon-billed-sandpiper.com

E

ight-thousand kilometres of coastline separate the breeding grounds of Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmeus in Arctic Russia from its non-breeding grounds in South-East Asia. Somewhere, something has been happening to the majority of young Spoon-billed Sandpipers, as well as to many adults. At the main site of Meinypilgyno,  where breeding birds are

monitored by Birds Russia the number making it back has been declining by an average of 26% per year. The global population of Spoon-billed Sandpiper is not only declining rapidly, but also ageing, with little recruitment of young birds. Although breeding success is low, the main factor in the sandpiper’s decline appears to be the low rate of return to the breeding grounds.

One factor may be the loss of resting and feeding areas along the migration flyway. Saemangeum on the coast of South Korea, where the largest ever concentration of migrating Spoon-billed Sandpipers was recorded, is now the site of the world’s biggest reclamation project. The remaining tidal mudflats around the Yellow Sea coast are being rapidly converted for agriculture, industry and urban development. In the last few years, we have also learned that hunters from coastal communities on the wintering grounds in Myanmar and Bangladesh have been catching the tiny sandpipers while trapping for other species. Fortunately, work by the same team that located the wintering population in Myanmar (BANCA, Bird Conservation Society of Thaliand, Birds Russia, ArcCona Consulting and the Japan Wetlands Action Network) has shown that the hunters will give up bird-trapping if offered an alternative, and that a small investment in equipment or livestock is enough to induce them to hand over their nets and poisons. Beginning in 2008, an international team of researchers led by BANCA (BirdLife in Myanmar) has visited Myanmar’s Arakan (Rakhine) coast and the Gulf of Martaban each January, surveying wintering populations of Spoon-billed Sandpipers. The Gulf of Martaban has emerged as the most important wintering site, with over 220 birds estimated in 2010/2011. Based on data from the breeding grounds, this is about half the estimated world population, and over twice as many birds as are found at all the other known wintering sites put together. 8


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Targeting hunters....(continued) During the first Myanmar survey in 2008, local hunters showed a detailed knowledge of the species, and four were reported to have been caught by one hunter alone during December 2007. Although not deliberately targeted, Spoonbilled Sandpipers are trapped as ‘bycatch’ in nets set for larger birds or pegged close to the mud to catch retreating fish as the tide goes out. The 2010 survey confirmed large-scale hunting and trapping across the whole of the Gulf of Martaban. Hunters who were interviewed reported trapping up to 350 waders in a single night. Dramatic confirmation of the threat to the species came one morning in January 2010, when a hunter brought the survey team a Spoon-billed Sandpiper he had caught the night before, along with about 100 Red-necked Stints Calidris ruficollis. The bird was marked with a red legflag and released by a group of local children.

These were divided into ‘professional’ hunters, for whom bird trapping was the most important source of income, and ‘opportunistic’ hunters who supplemented fishing income with birds when convenient. There were also ‘occasional’ hunters who netted birds for food or recreation rather than income.

After signing the agreements, the former hunters handed over their nets, baskets and poisons.

In early 2011, encouraged by the success of the 2010 activities, a BANCA team repeated their socio-economic survey in 47 villages on the west side of the Bay of Martaban. They found a total of 37 hunters, seven of them professional or opportunistic, and 30 occasional. The seven more active hunters mostly sold the birds they caught as meat, though some small birds were sold live for release at monasteries. Twenty one hunters remembered having caught at least one Spoon-billed Sandpiper. According to their recollections, three had been caught in the winter of 2011, six in 2010, and 11 in 2009.

BANCA will continue to monitor the incidence of hunting along the shores of Martaban, and further community development initiatives are planned, such as improving access to safe water.

Along with other members of their communities, the occasional hunters were provided with education on conservation and the environment, and the law. Additional topics included the implications of Ramsar status for the After the survey, BANCA worked with the hunters to provide Gulf of Martaban, and the global importance of Spoon-billed alternative livelihoods in exchange for a pledge to cease Sandpipers and other migratory shorebirds. Some former hunting. Nine months later, when BANCA revisited the bird-hunters who had been helped to set up with alternative villages, the former hunters were found to have kept to their livelihoods by BANCA talked about the change in their pledges. attitudes and their livelihood status.

The hunter said that he had last caught a Spoon-billed Sandpiper in August 2009. This was almost certainly an immature bird. Not only are young birds more likely than adults to fall victim to hunters, they are also likely to be affected disproportionately because they are thought not return to the breeding grounds until they are two years old, with some speculated to spend the whole of the intervening year in this area. During April and May 2011, BANCA offered the professional and opportunistic hunters the means for alternative The focus of the January 2010 survey was on gaining a livelihoods in exchange for signing ‘conservation contracts’ better understanding of the causes of the sandpiper’s promising never again to hunt birds. In compensation, decline, particularly the impact of hunting. BANCA organised BANCA provided a grant of 500,000 kyat (approximately the logistics of the survey -a considerable challenge, with US$60) to professional bird-hunters, and 200,000 kyat many of the dirt roads impassable after a few days of (US$23) to opportunistic hunters. The bird-hunters used rain- and undertook a socio-economic study of the villages these funds to purchase assets for alternative livelihoods on the east coast of the Bay of Martaban to assess according to their own inclination, including pigs and the extent of bird-hunting and its importance for local ducks, and fishing boats and gear. One former hunter, who livelihoods. had daughters but no sons, was later allowed to trade his fishing gear for the means to set up a village shop. The study identified a total of 26 bird hunters in 15 villages.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper faces many threats, not least on the coastal tundra that meets its specialised breeding requirements, where climate change may be causing changes in the availability of nesting habitat. Many conservation actions are underway for the species, at many scales, from the local to the flyway-wide. But without BANCA’s practical and cheap solution to the livelihood needs of some of South-East Asia’s poorest people, there might soon have been no young Spoon-billed Sandpipers left to begin their perilous return journey ---------Source: writen by BANCA and Nick Langley. First published in World Birdwatch March 2012 Volume 34 No. 1.

9


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Edwards’s Pheasant declines to Critically Endangered As part of BirdLife’s 2012 update of the IUCN Red List for birds, the conservation status of 190 species was revised. Amongst these was Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi whose conservation status has declined from Endangered to Critically Endangered (CE) and may be extinct in the wild. I had been making the case that this restricted-range, Vietnamese insular endemic had been in serious decline, based on the lack of recent records in an ever declining area of increasingly fragmented forest patches for sometime already and welcome this reassessment of its conservation status, which should draw more attention to its plight and the need for conservation action. The invalidation of Lophura hatinhensis as a taxon will also help focus attention on Edwards’s Pheasant, and this remains to be done.

Lack of field evidence There has been no reliable sighting of L. edwardsi in the wild since a sereis of sightings during a BirdLife survey in 1994 in the Khe Net watershed on the border between Ha

Stamp of Edwards’s Pheasant produced in Vietnam

Tinh and Quang Binh provinces. Since then there has been extensive field surveys udertaken throughout the known range of Edwards’s Pheasant by experienced observers. In 2011 BirdLife and the World Pheasant Association mounted extensive camera trapping at the “best probable” sites within the known range (Dakrong Nature Reserve) and did not record the species because of very high trapping pressure of all terrestrial vertebrates at the visited sites

Lack of taxonomic clarity The issue of the real number of endemic Lophura pheasants in the Annamese Lowlands of central Vietnam underpins the whole issue and total clarity is still lacking partly because of BirdLife International’s continued treatment of “L. hatinhensis” as a good species (thankfully L. imperialis has already been invalidated). In my view “L. hatinhensis” is a genetically mutant form of L. edwardsi. This is supported strongly by the morphological and distributional evidence. Male “L. hatinhensis” differs only from male L. edwardsi by having a variable number of randomly distributed white feathers in the tail, and sometimes elsewhere on the body. The females are indistinguishable as far as I can tell (despite brave past efforts to discern differences) . Hardly a strong basis upon which to describe a new species. “L. hatinhensis” has been recorded in Ha Tinh and Thua Tien - Hue Provinces, at either end of the range of L. edwardsi. And in the case of the latter, within the known geographic range of L. edwardsi. A single good record (verified by Le Trong Trai and I) in Thua Thien - Hue province strongly indicates a mutant origin (although does not rule out sympatry). The type description of “L. hatinhensis” was brief, published in a book and not subjct ot peer review.

populations of L. edwardsi which are a consequence of extensive deforestation and fragmentation within its range. (The male “L. hatinensis” in Thua Tien- Hue was observed with a flock of chickens and caught in the rafters of a house! The surrounding “forest” consisted of exotic pine and acacia!). So the existence of “L. hatinhensis” tells us that L. edwardsi is in extreme danger of extinction and has been for some considerable time. Moving on to consider, a taxon now considered invalid by BirdLife International because of its hybrid origin. Why would L. edwardsi hybridise with L. nycthmera to produce L. imperialis under wild conditions? Surely this would only happen if there were insufficient L. edwardsi in the population for them to meet naturally? This behaviour is well documented in wild bird populations. Consider the behaviour of the last wild Spix Macaw for example. So again, the existence of L. imperialis should be a red flag for conservationists. The description of L. imperialis some 80 years ago tells us that L. edwardsi has been in grave trouble for the best part of a century already ----------Source: Jonathan C. Eames, BirdLife International in Indochina

Surely the evidence points to “L. hatinhensis” being a genetic mutant form of L. edwardsi? The mutation is occurring because of inbreeding depression in small, isolated 10


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

A Cambodian Perspective On Mekong River Water Security

W

ater scarcity is getting more serious in the region, as it is driven by population growth, urbanization, industrialization, energy demand and climate change. It is noted that as the economic and strategic value of water is increasing so does competition to get access to this scarce resource. In our Mekong region, competition to get access to and, in theory, optimise the use of the common river is accelerating. Four of the six countries sharing the Mekong River-Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam-have created the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) to manage this trans-boundary water resource in a sustainable and fair manner. However, national sovereignty remains a challenge for this inter-governmental organisation to agree on any binding policy or principle to guide the management of the river.

HYDROPOWER DAMS AND HUMAN SECURITY Recently there have been ongoing dialogues and discussions on the impacts of hydropower dams on human security in the region. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some thoughts on this. It is crystal clear that any hydropower dam along the mainstream of the Mekong River will have serious negative impact on fishery sector, sediment flows, and environment in general.

of hydropower dams along the main stream are huge that we must find the political will to either postpone or stop them. The Cambodian Prime Minister, Samdech Techo Hun Sen, once said the management of the Mekong River is a matter of life and death. This can be regarded as a strong statement with a long-term vision. Political leadership is required to drive the course of Mekong River development. Long-termism should dominate over short-termism. Regional and national interests should be carefully and responsibly balanced. Mekong River development has to be inclusive, meaning equitably taking into consideration the voices of the majority of the key stakeholders, especially the people who continue to rely on the river and its tributary system for their food security and livelihoods. Mekong River development needs harmonization among the environment-development-people nexus.

RISKS POSED BY LAOS’ PLANNED XAYABURI DAM The Lao PDR’s planned construction of Xayaburi hydropower dam will seriously cause negative impacts on the lower Mekong basin countries. Specifically, the dam will not only involve the resettlement of about 2,100 people; the means of subsistence, income and food security of 202,000 people living around Xayaburi dam will be affected due to the reduction of farmland and decimation of fisheries.

When we talk about the linkages between hydropower dams and human security, it is no longer a technical issue but a political one. The reasons are simple: there is clear scientific evidence agreed by most experts that the impacts As the downstream country, the impact on Cambodia will

be even greater. When the dam is constructed on the main stream of Mekong river, the food source of 80% of the population will be affected. The Tonle Sap lake area will face most serious problems due to the impact on its wild fish resources, which currently constitute the primary source of food and livelihoods for 1.6 million people and approximately 10% of current national GDP. The reduction of alluvium caused by the stagnancy of water in the dam’s reservoir will also negatively affect Cambodia food security. Thailand will likewise experience serious environmental impact on fisheries, alluvium and aquatic products, as well as social issues such as the destruction of subsistencebased livelihoods for people living along Mekong River and increased migration to urban areas, both internal and trans-boundary. Located in the lowest part of Mekong basin, Vietnam will suffer the most from the negative impacts of dam on main stream of Mekong river. The Xayaburi dam and other proposed main stream dams on the Lower Mekong would add significantly to the projected impact of China’s massive dams in Yunnan on the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, where 18 million people are living as well as to regional and even international food security. Vietnam is the world’s second largest rice exporter and the Mekong Delta-already one of the areas most vulnerable to sea level rise--produces nearly half of its rice crop. In December 2011 the government of the Lao PDR agreed under pressure from Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to postpone the Xayaburi dam construction project until further studies could be carried out on sustainably developing the Mekong’s water resources. Ultimately, the final decision needs to take the principles of human 11


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

A Cambodian Perspective.....(continued) security into consideration with the development philosophy of long-termism, inclusiveness, harmonization, people- orientation, and regional cooperation and friendship. If we allow the Xayaburi dam to be constructed, it means we allow the other proposed 10 dams along the mainstream Mekong River to be constructed as well. Such scenario is very dangerous. We need to do something to prevent that from happening.

implemented based on information and data gathering 3) Strengthening regional institutions regarding rainfall in the mountainous areas and water flow patterns of the upper half of the Mekong River. The four-country MRC and the ten-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are the two main Exchanges of experts and engineers among the countries regional institutions in managing differences in the sharing the Mekong River needs to be improved and region. However, these two institutions are good at further promoted, particularly visits to the hydropower facilitating consultation but cannot effectively cope with dams construction sites. Scientific data sharing needs the conflicts when it arises due to the strict principle to be promoted based on the full sharing of data and of non-interference. We need to establish an effective information. Upper and Lower Mekong countries need conflict resolution mechanism in the region with these to create an open channel of information sharing. The institutions. Good office should be created to response to institutionalization of data sharing can be a tool promoting emerging water conflict and other human security issues transparency. such as natural disaster and climate change. ASEAN-MRC partnership needs to be strengthened.

The Cambodian government has clear and firm position that the Xayaburi dam needs to be suspended and further scientific study and assessment need to be conducted. Civil society organisations in Cambodia are mobilizing their 2) Preventive diplomacy voices to fight against the dam construction along the mainstream of the Mekong River. Since its adoption at the 8th ASEAN Regional Forum in 2001 the principle of ‘Preventive Diplomacy’ (PD) has been officially accepted to be one of the cornerstones HOW TO MANAGE THE MEKONG RIVER FOR ALL of regional relations and security cooperation. PD aims at consensual diplomatic and political actions to Managing the river for the benefit of those who depend prevent conflicts either from arising or from escalating, on it for their livelihoods and human security must be or to minimize the impact of existing conflicts. In order done with four principles in mind: to prevent water conflict along the Mekong River, it is necessary to strengthen the existing dialogues and negotiation with more openness, transparency, and 1) Openness and Transparency participation from relevant stakeholders. China, an important ASEAN Dialogue Partner and MRC observer, Transparency is one of the most important principles needs to be a part of that process, as does Myanmar, and measures to build trust and confidence among which is now negotiating membership in the MRC. the countries sharing the Mekong River. Data sharing Voluntary briefings on water resources development and especially in the dry season is crucial for equitable water usage should be further encouraged. An early warning resources management and disaster prevention and system based on existing mechanisms needs to be management. Recently, our region has been faced with developed to prevent the occurrence and escalation of disastrous flooding. The lesson from such experiences conflicts. is that an early warning system needs to be effectively

4) Stakeholder collaboration and partnership Collaboration and partnership among different stakeholders (public, private, and civil society organisations) are critically important to sustainable water resources management. Cooperation and negotiation among these different stakeholders for the sustainable use of water resources and leadership are desperately needed. An effective cooperation strategy framework is needed for guaranteeing water resources security. Several frameworks are available and the Mekong region needs to find a suitable one that encourages participation of all actors and helps achieve agreements that are sustainable, equitable to all users and based on long term commitments ------------By Chheang Vannarith, Executive Director, Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP). First published on www.stimson.org, 4 April 2012.

12


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

New Energy Plan Reveals Thailand Does Not Need Xayaburi Dam Or Other Forms Of Destructive Energy

A -------------

“It’s clear that the electricity of the

Xayaburi Dam is not needed in Thailand,” said Pianporn Deetes, Thailand Country Coordinator for International Rivers. ------------

pril 30, 2012 - Bangkok, Thailand: Representatives from more than 130 civil society organisations have proposed a new Power Development Plan to Thailand’s policy makers and the public to chart a sustainable pathway to meet Thailand’s future energy needs. The plan shows that power from the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River, as well as proposed nuclear power plants, are not needed to meet Thailand’s future energy needs, and that investment in energy efficiency, renewables and co-generation could lower electricity bills for consumers by 12% by 2030 and avoid unnecessary investment of $60 billion (2 trillion baht).

More than 130 civil society organisations have endorsed the plan and its policy recommendations, which will lead to more sustainable and cheaper alternatives than the energy choices determined in Thailand’s PDP 2010.

“Thailand’s energy planning process is in a state of crisis. Persistent over-forecasting of energy demand has led to over-investment and onerous economic burdens on consumers. Risky and environmentally unsound power plants are being built inside Thailand and neighbouring countries, while safer, cleaner and cheaper alternative energy options are being disregarded,” said Ms. Greacen. “This new power plan identifies barriers and offers realistic energy solutions, which will bring social, economic and environmental benefits to Thailand.”

“Investing in energy efficiency measures and alternative energy could easily prevent Thailand from continuing down this dangerous path of environmentally and socially disastrous projects, like the Xayaburi Dam. Thailand’s energy authorities would be wise to cancel the Xayaburi Dam and begin implementing the solutions offered in this new Power Development Plan.” ----------Source: Ame Trandem, International Rivers

“This new Power Development Plan will revolutionize and modernize Thailand’s energy sector. It shows how we can protect the environment, while scrapping power projects like destructive dams, dirty coal and dangerous nuclear plans. The Plan also tackles issues such as energy affordability, climate change and energy security,” said Mr. Tara Buakamsri, Campaign Director for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, one of the NGOs that has endorsed the The proposed Power Development Plan (PDP) 2012 and a plan. “We hope this report gives policy makers and business Framework for Improving Accountability and Performance of executives the knowledge and confidence needed to take Power Sector Planning was produced by Thai energy experts smart steps forward.” Chuenchom Sangasri Greacen and Dr. Chris Greacen. The plan was presented by Ms. Chuenchom Sangasri Greacen on The report is being released only days after Thailand’s Ch. Friday April 27, 2012 at a closed door meeting being held by Karnchang Pcl. announced that it was building the Xayaburi Thailand’s Energy Regulatory Commission. Officials from the Dam in Laos on the Mekong River despite a lack of regional Ministry of Energy and the Electricity Generating Authority agreement by the governments of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia of Thailand (EGAT) were in the audience. and Vietnam.

13


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Xayaburi study questioned

M

ay 21, 2012 - Lao Vice Minister of Energy and Mines Viraponh Viravong was reported as saying last week that a redesigned Xayaburi dam in northern Laos would allow a steady flow of sediment downstream, thus allaying environmental concerns. “First, we hired … Poyry to do the impact study, but people were not satisfied with that. And now we have hired a French company,” he told Radio Free Asia. “This study … confirms that if the Lao government wants to let the dam be redesigned, there will be no impact on the environment.” Viraponh Viravong did not name the study’s French authors, but conservation groups said Laos had commissioned Compagnie Nationale du Rhone (CNR) to review Poyry’s 2011 study. Marc Goichot, sustainable hydropower manager for WWF-Greater Mekong, said CNR failed to address concerns about potential effects on fish in the Lower Mekong. “WWF’s understanding is that the scope of the CNR review is limited to hydrology, sediment and navigation impact,” he said. “Questions about fish and fisheries raised in response to the Poyry report have not yet been addressed.” International Rivers Southeast Asia programme director Ame Trandem said the new report was a “meaningless” attempt to woo fellow Mekong River Commission member countries.

A road leading to the proposed dam site in Xayaburi province, Laos, was constructed last year. Photograph: Bangkok Post

“While Poyry sidestepped sci­­ence on the dam’s fishery impacts, the new CNR review deliberately omits the dam’s fishery impacts,” Thai developer Ch.Karnchang said last month that construction she said. “Until the trans-boundary impacts of the project are had begun on the dam – the first of 11 along the Lower Mekong assessed, Laos has no basis for claiming this dam is sustainable.” – on March 15. Laos agreed early this month to suspend construction The four MRC member states – Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and -------Laos – agreed in December that the 1,260-megawatt could not Source: Shane Worrell, Phnom Penh Post proceed until further studies assessed its potential impact. Japan last month agreed to help fund a study with MRC’s other development partners. 14


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Sweden backs Mekong Commission

Work on Xayaburi escalates

T

J

The money would support five of its programmes and institutional arrangements over a period of three-and-ahalf years, an MRC press release said.

International Rivers says so-called preparatory work has escalated into significant construction on the dam despite the 1995 Mekong agreement by Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, which requires a study of trans-boundary impacts before any such work take place.

Sweden has been a long-term partner of the MRC, an inter-governmental body whose members include Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam and is responsible for the sustainable management of the Mekong basin. The majority of the $8.5 million will be used for MRC Programmes and activities Sweden has supported before.

The work included constructing a concrete retaining wall, dredging to deepen and widen the river bed, relocating a village and increasing the labour force, Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia program director of International Rivers, said yesterday.

he Swedish Government last week provided US$8.5 million to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to strengthen its management and develop water and related resources in the Mekong’s lower basin.

They include the Basin Development Plan Programme, the Environment Programme, and the Fisheries Programme and institutional operations such as communications, stakeholder engagement, and decentralisation of the MRC’s core functions

une 28, 2012 - Thai firm Ch. Karnchang has begun significant work on the controversial Xayaburi dam in what environmental groups say is a blatant violation of Laos’s commitments to affected countries downstream.

“They’ve continued to say this is all preparatory work, but what we noticed and what villagers told us in the area is that everything has up-scaled in the past two months,” she said.

failing to complete building houses as agreed compensation, Trandem said. She called for urgent intervention by the Laotian government to stop the expanded construction before it inevitably impacted on the river’s fisheries and ecosystems in downstream countries such as Cambodia. Two impact studies Laos has used to claim that a redesigned version of the 1,260-megawatt, US$3.8 billion dam would have no impact on the environment have been decried by environmental groups for failing to examine trans-boundary impacts. The four governments of the Mekong River Commission are due to meet in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, tomorrow. Te Navuth, secretary-general of the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, said that if photos provided by International Rivers were genuine, the construction was a breach of agreements to halt construction until downstream impacts had been examined.

--------

“What Ch. Karnchang is doing right now is violating the 1995 Mekong agreement, and they’re violating the trust of neighbouring countries,” said Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia program

“In April, we sent a letter to them already asking them to stop construction, so we are surprised at seeing these photos. It is not in line with what we agreed,” he said Source: David Boyle, Phnom Penh Post

director of International Rivers -------Ch. Karnchang had also broken promises to resettled residents from Houay Souy village to provide agricultural land and free electricity and power for a year, as well as 15


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Vietnam: Dam projects destroy environment

M

ay 9, 2012 - Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam - It is a serious mistake to build so many hydro-power dams around the country since they ravage the environment, a seminar on the subject held in the Central province of Quang Nam’s Tam Ky City on May 7 heard. Le Phuoc Thanh, head of the National Assembly delegation from Quang Nam, told the conference named “Sustainable Development of Hydro-power Projects: Lessons and Warnings” that dams have destroyed forests, caused floods in the lower sections of rivers, and swallowed a lot of arable land. Investors, and not common people, benefit mostly from them, he added. Dinh Van Thu, deputy chairman of the Quang Nam People’s Committee, said: “We made a big mistake by allowing the development of so many hydro-power projects. It is a little bit late to correct the fault.” Prof Vu Trong Hong, chairman of the Vietnam Irrigation Association, said some 800 medium and small dams are blocking off and “killing” all the country’s rivers, especially in the central and Central Highlands regions. He laid the blame squarely on the privatisation of power generation for the massive investment in hydro-power projects. “BOT (build-operatetransfer) investment in hydro-power projects is banned in other countries but allowed in

Vietnam,” he said.

of rivers, causing a long-term threat to the environment, he said.

Dr Dao Trong Hung of the Vietnam Rivers Network (VRN) said around 16 hectares of forests need to be destroyed to generate a megawatt of hydropower. “They were ‘forest destruction’ projects that were licensed in the name of hydro-power projects,” he said.

Do Tai, chairman of the province’s Dong Giang District which has seven hydro-power projects, said: “I was heartbroken to see many residents in my district losing their land to hydro-power projects. They were forced to destroy forests to earn a living and were later prosecuted for [it].”

Dams have also affected biodiversity, he said, pointing out that 110 hydro-power projects are encroaching on 47 forests. The Cat Tien and Hoang Lien National Parks were alone home to 12 of them, he said.

VRN urged relevant authorities to consider each dam project carefully before licensing. Their benefits should be shared with residents and communities affected by them, VRN said. Though invitations had been sent to hydropower investors across the country, none People relocated to make way for dams too attended the seminar which was organised by suffered he said, referring to the 1968 Thac Ba the Quang Nam NA delegation and VRN. Hydro-power Plant which uprooted many who continue to lead a hand-to-mouth existence Just a few days ago the Ministry of Natural after all these decades. Resources and Environment announced inspections of hydro-power projects in 22 Irrigation expert Le Tri Tap, who is also an provinces and cities. They will be examined ex-chairman of the Quang Nam People’s for land, environment, water-resource, and Committee, said dam projects ignore hydro-meteorology issues. sustainable resettlement of residents Last year the Department of Industry and relocated to build them. “That is how these Trade of Quang Nam Province had urged hydro-power projects have impoverished Quang Nam and the Ministry of Industry people.” and Trade to scrap six long-delayed, environmentally harmful dam projects Authorities failed to carefully identify the -----------Source: Ngoc Tuan, Vietnam News adverse impacts of dams while investors had unscrupulously tried to alter the basins

What is left after dam construction? Photo: Zenith Phuong 16


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Hun Sen grants four economic land concessions “We’re afraid that they just changed the owner from the old by every ELC within the country, and to do so within six months. document [ELC],” he said. Khun Sea Import Export was granted 8,200 hectares of land in Oddar Meanchey province’s Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, and A2A Town (Cambodia) Co. Ltd received a 9,668- hectare ELC in the Kirirom National Park that stretches across Kampong Speu and Preah Sihanouk provinces. In Mondulkiri’s Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, the Lim Royal Joint Company received 9,068 hectares, while the Roath Sokhorn Company was granted 9,000 hectares in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary. Prime Minister Hun Sen. Photo: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

J

une 25, 2012 - Prime Minister Hun Sen has signed off on four more economic land concessions (ELCs), all in protected areas, despite placing a moratorium on granting such leases on May 7. Since the May 7 sub-decree, the premier has now signed off on seven concessions totalling 56,586 hectares to develop agro-industry, though his cabinet has argued that three granted on May 18 did not flout the ban because they were ELCs already in the final stages of approval. The latest Royal Gazette reveals more than 35,000 hectares were granted in ELCs to four companies on June 7. When asked why the leases had been granted in apparent contradiction of the moratorium, Council of Minister’s spokesman Phay Siphan said he was not aware of the concessions and believed there were no arrangements for new ELCs.

Lim Leang Se, deputy director of the prime minister’s cabinet, restated the terms of the moratorium and denied more ELCs had been granted without further elaborating. “The premier stopped granting ELCs for private companies and appealed for specific verification on the documents [for existing ELCs],” he said. The moratorium came ahead of commune council elections on June 3, in which the endemic turmoil and violence caused by ELCs was a core focus of opposition party campaigns. Opposition groups, political analysts and rights groups were sceptical of the premier’s sincerity given the timing of the moratorium and seized on the May 18 concessions, which had all the hallmarks of but were not explicitly titled ELCs, as proof he had never intended to stick to his word.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday the latest ELCs further confirmed that the moratorium had merely been a political stunt to curry favour with the electorate and called on the government to stop granting concessions to private companies. “The government should grant that land to Cambodian citizens who have no land for farming,” he said. Am Sam Ath, senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, said Hun Sen was losing the trust of villagers. “If he still grants more economic land concessions, it will cause his low-level officers who are working to settle the land disputes to have no will to work on that, because they see the government’s measure,” Ath said. “Land concessions are the main resources that create land disputes around the country, so the government should stop granting economic land concessions, as he [Hun Sen] issued in the directive.” The rate at which economic land concessions are granted is rapidly accelerating. The government granted more than 2.2 million hectares for agro-industry last year, two-thirds of them in protected areas, according to the rights group Adhoc --------Source: May Titthara, Phnom Penh Post

On June 14, Hun Sen went further, ordering authorities all over the country to measure land plots for villagers affected 17


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Cambodia: Environmental activist Chut Wutty shot dead

C

ambodia’s most outspoken activist against illegal logging was shot dead today [26 April] while escorting journalists near a protected forest in Koh Kong province, where he has repeatedly attempted to expose illegal logging rackets that include military officials. Chut Wutty, the director of Natural Resource Protection Group, was killed after military police apprehended him at Veal Bei in Mondul Seima district on behalf of a company that asked them to stop him from taking photos of their development, military police spokesman Kheng Tito said. “And the company asked the military police in that area to come to intervene, and later on, the shooting happened,” he said, adding that this had occurred at about 12:30 in the afternoon. He said that military police officer In Rattana, 31, was also killed in the shooting. While he said he could not confirm it, he told the Post he believed it was possible that Chut Wutty had been armed, but was unable to say who fired first because he had yet to receive a report from his officers. Two journalists from the Cambodia Daily that were travelling with Chut Wutty, Phorn Bopha and Olesia Plokhii, had been detained by military police, said the newspaper’s editor-inchief, Kevin Doyle, who called for their safe return. They remained in “the company of the army or military police in the forest,” he said. Rights group Licadho immediately dispatched investigators, and the organisation’s Koh Kong provincial coordinator, In Kong Chet, said that after talking to ballistics police, he had

established that Chut Wutty was shot as he tried to drive away from the military police. “Mr. Chut Wutty went to shoot a photo in a place where a lot of trees were being cut and then one military police came asking him for the memory [card] from him,” he said. He alleged that In Rattana threatened to shoot a defiant Chut Wutty and opened fire with an AK-47 when he attempted to drive his car away, but was also killed when a bullet ricocheted off the vehicle. “The first bullet hit Wutty’s knee and [In Rattana] continued hitting his stomach, so that caused Wutty’s death, and other two bullets hit Wutty’s car and ricocheted hitting Rattana and killing him,” he said, adding he had examined their dead bodies. Thong Narong, Military police chief in Koh Kong province, said his officers were still investigating the case. Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said he also could not confirm details but that it was very regretful if Chut Wutty had indeed been shot. “If it’s true, personally, I share my condolences with his family,” he said.

Chut Wutty at Phnom Penh Post main office ealier this year. Photo: Hong Menea

companies granted land concessions in protected forests and related government corruption. Last December, after being repeatedly apprehended by military police after escorting the Post to the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in southwestern Cambodia, Chut Wutty asked for his photograph to be taken fearing he could soon be killed.

His younger brother Chheuy Wutty said his brother’s body will be repatriated to Svay Meas village, his home town in The group was reportedly travelling toward the Stung Atai Vihear Sour commune, Kchlach district, Kandal province dam in Pursat province’s Veal Veng district where Chut Wutty --------had alleged that the company licensed to clear the area, Source: May Titthara and David Boyle, Phnom Penh Post MDS Import Export, had conspired with military and forestry administration officials to illegally log. Chut Wutty had been the country’s most vocal critic of the military’s alleged role in illegal logging conducted by 18


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Diclofenac is toxic to the Himalayan Vulture

V

eterinary use of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) diclofenac has been shown to be the major cause of the collapse of populations of three Gyps vulture species endemic to South Asia. The Whiterumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, Indian Vulture G. indicus and Slender-billed Vulture G. tenuirostris, have declined by more than 98% in the Indian subcontinent since the early 1990s, and are now all listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ (IUCN 2004). Gyps vultures are exposed to diclofenac through consuming the contaminated carcasses of livestock that have been treated with the drug shortly before death and die from kidney failure, with clinical signs of extensive visceral gout and renal damage. These clinical signs and diclofenac residues have been found in carcasses of wild G. bengalensis and G. indicus, and in G.bengalensis either dosed with diclofenac orally or given tissues from diclofenac treated livestock. Research on White-backed Vultures G. africanus, Eurasian Griffons G. fulvus and Cape Vultures G. coprotheres has established that these three species are about as sensitive to diclofenac as G. bengalensis, with birds dying with the same clinical signs of visceral gout and characteristic renal damage. This experimental testing has established that diclofenac is toxic to four species of vultures in the genus Gyps, but information on the toxicity of diclofenac to other members of the genus is lacking. Read full paper here -------------Source: Devojit Das, Richard J. Cuthbert, Ram D. Jakati and Vibhu Prakash. Diclofenac is toxic to the Himalayan Vulture Gyps himalayensis. Bird Conservation International (2011) 21:72–75. BirdLife International, 2010. doi:10.1017/ S0959270910000171

regional news

Vietnamese man held with rhino horns in South Africa

T

he security force of South Africa’s O R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg arrested a Vietnamese young man when he was about to leave the country with three rhino horns.

Upon searching the 25-year-old man’s luggage, the customs officers at the airport found the horns hidden in his bags, the New York Daily News quoted SA Revenue Service (SARS) spokesperson Adrian Lackay as saying. The horns weigh about 13.9 kg in total and have an estimated value of about US$900,000, SARS said. The man had travelled to South Africa before and he was being closely monitored up until his arrest, Lackay said. The man, who was apparently in the country on a student visa, said he was here to learn English, according to Eyewitness News. The name of the young man has yet to be announced. Since the beginning of 2012, about 181 rhino horns have been poached in South Africa, according to local wildlife officials. Last year, police detained 232 alleged poachers, of whom 26 were killed in clashes with law enforcement officers. South Africa’s Environmental Agency warned that the number of rhinos killed in the country this year might end up doubling that of last year, putting the animal at risk of extinction in the near future ---------Source: VietNamNet/Tuoi Tre

Vietnam: Man arrested for hunting endangered langurs

J

uly 5, 2012 - Binh Phuoc Province, Vietnam - Police in the southern province of Binh Phuoc have arrested a man for killing 18 langurs in Bu Gia Map National Park, said Bu Gia Map District Police. On June 28, the national park’s forest rangers and border guards uncovered a shelter with 18 dead and dried langurs weighing about 50 kilogrammes. Bui Van Ngay, 48, resident of the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong’s Tuy Duc District, was in possession of the animals.

Biology Research revealed the animals are Red-shanked Douc langur (Pygathrix nemaeus), which is endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species -------Source: Vietnam News The location of this incident indicates the langurs must have been Black-shanked Douc Langurs Pygatrix nigripes. Ed.

Ngay said he and several other men had entered the national park illegally and shot the langurs. Tests from the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Institute for Tropical 19


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Report from the first meeting of Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction (SAVE)

T

he first meeting of Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction was held in Pinjore, Haryana, India from 16 to 18 November 2011. Following the summary of main recommendations and priorities arising since the inaugural SAVE meeting of February 2011, in this meeting, updates of species

conservation work from country to country as well as the latest progress made by the subcommittee were reported. Please read the full report here for further details ----------Source: Saving Asia’s Vultures from Extinction

A Conservation Alliance In Vietnam

V

ietnam represents the last possible opportunity for the conservation of some of the most globally threatened taxa. The loss of the last Javan Rhino on mainland Asia in 2010 from Cat Tien National Park has thrown the serious nature of species conservation in Vietnam into stark relief. There are many species that could follow in the footsteps of the Javan rhino in the next decade. The nature of species-based conservation in Vietnam is hampered by numerous conditions; lack of funds, lack of technical input, institutional memory loss, lack of transparency and sharing of lessons learnt. Within this environment, WCS, IUCN – Vietnam and IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group have raised seed funds to bring stakeholders to the table to discuss how Vietnam can avoid similar tragedies as the loss of the Javan rhino from Vietnam through mitigating against these issues, specifically to: • Share technical and financial resources. • Provide a unified and credible voice on

species conservation matters. • Network and share information among members. • Monitor and report on the status of target species. The first discussion meeting of the conservation alliance was held on 3rd of May 2012 with the participation of 20 conservation practitioners, researchers and donors. Among other points, the participants agreed to support for greater communication, coordination, and cooperation among NGOs to ensure the survival of Vietnam’s most threatened species. There is also a need to determine a clear set of criteria for generating the priority species list and such a list should be reviewed on a regular basis. After the meeting IUCN/SSC has agreed to act as an institutional home for the alliance ----------Source: Duong Viet Hong, Communications Officer, Wildlife Conservation Society Vietnam Programme

Ivory’s port of call in Cambodia

J

une 26, 2012 - Worldwide levels of elephant poaching and recorded seizures of ivory are the worst in a decade, and the port at Sihanoukville is emerging as a key transit route for African ivory headed for China and Thailand, according to a report by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). “Use of Cambodia’s Sihanoukville port, the country’s only deep-water port, as an export destination for ivory from Africa appears to be an emerging substitute trade route to China following the series of large seizures in Vietnam, which typically has served as an overland conduit into China’s Guangxi province,” the report says.

he had not heard of the report, but dismissed its veracity all the same. “There are very few goods that are transported into Cambodia and forwarded to other countries [through the port]. It is rare for such forwarded goods to appear at the port,” he said. “There are no goods transported to China, and there is no ivory transportation.” Vuthy Ravong, team chief of Wildlife Alliance’s rapid rescue project, which cracks down on the road-based trafficking of wildlife animals, said his group had not seen any crackdown on ivory in Cambodia.

The CITES report calls on elephantIn 2011, two large consignments of range states to improve their capacity African ivory, one seized in Kenya and one to manage and conserve elephant in Malaysia, were reportedly destined for populations. Sihanoukville, even though Cambodia has never reported any trade action to the The Post has previously reported that CITES Elephant Trade Information System, large-scale forest destruction has had an it says. impact on elephant populations, which have been forced from the jungle in Cambodia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and recent months and been sighted near Laos, all Asian elephant-range countries, human settlements have never reported any information to ------ETIS, despite collectively being implicated Source: Bridget Di Certo and Phak in 572 ivory seizures, the report adds. Seangly, Phnom Penh Post Lou Kim Chhun, general director of the Preah Sihanouk Autonomous Port, said 20


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news Occurrence of Three Felids across a Network of Protected Areas in Thailand: Prey, Intra-guild, and Habitat Associations

Mapping the distribution of dhole Cuon alpinus in Thailand

N

o recent attempt has been made to survey dhole distribution, or to estimate remaining population numbers in Thailand. The authors surveyed 15 protected areas in Thailand with camera traps from 1996 to 2010. They used the photo locations of dholes (n= 96) in the maximum entropy (MaxEnt) model along with six environmental variables to model current dhole distribution, as well as species predictive occurrence layers for sambar, red muntjac, wild boar, tiger, and leopard. The MaxEnt model identified the predicted probability of the presence of leopards and sambar as positive and the most important variables in modelling dhole presence, indicating that maintaining a sufficient prey base may be the most important factor determining continued survival of dholes. Roughly 7 %  of the total land area in Thailand is potentially suitable for dhole. However, surveys to date have focused on protected areas, which make up just a third of the potential suitable areas for dhole. Only in four protected areas do they occur across the entire landscape, suggesting that in the majority of places where they occur, habitats are not uniformly suitable. Using the model, the authors identified several potential areas where dhole have not been reported, and therefore status surveys are needed, and where future research of the species might be focused. Read full paper here -------------Source: Kate E. Jenks, Shumpei Kitamura, Antony J. Lynam, Dusit Ngoprasert, Wanlop Chutipong, Robert Steinmetz, Ronglarp Sukmasuang, Lon I. Grassman Jr., Passanan Cutter, Naruemon Tantipisanuh, Naris Bhumpakphan, George A. Gale, David H. Reed, Peter Leimgruber and Nucharin Songsasen. Mapping the distribution of dholes, Cuon alpinus (Canidae, Carnivora), in Thailand. Mammalia Volume 76, Issue 2, Pages 175–184. DOI: 10.1515/mammalia-2011-0063, April 2012

C

louded Leopard, Leopard, and Tiger are threatened felids in Southeast Asia, but little is known about the factors influencing their distributions. Using logistic regression, the authors assessed how habitat variables, prey detection patterns, and presence of Intraguild predators affect the occurrence of these felids across 13 protected areas within Thailand. The analysis is based on data from 1108 camera-trap locations (47,613 trap-nights). Clouded Leopard and Leopard are associated with habitat where Red Muntjac and Eurasian Wild Pig were most likely to be present. Tiger are associated with habitat with a higher likelihood for the presence of Gaur, Eurasian Wild Pig, and Sambar. Clouded Leopard and Tiger were both weakly associated with areas with mature evergreen forest. Besides availability of prey, associations with potential competitors also appear to influence the distribution of these felids, although the strength of these effects requires further investigation. Occurrence rates for Clouded Leopard were no different in protected areas with Leopard versus without Leopards.

Leopard had similar occurrence rates regardless of the presence of Tiger, but Leopards were less likely to be detected at the same camera-trap points with the larger felid. The results suggest that the two most commonly photographed prey species in the study areas serve as key prey species, Eurasian Wild Pig for all three carnivores and Red Muntjac for Leopard and Clouded Leopard. Download the paper here ------------Source: Dusit Ngoprasert, Antony J. Lynam, Ronglarp Sukmasuang, Naruemon Tantipisanuh, Wanlop Chutipong, Robert Steinmetz, Kate E. Jenks, George A. Gale, Lon I. Grassman Jr., Shumpei Kitamura, JoGayle Howard, Passanan Cutter, Peter Cutter, Peter Leimgruber, Nucharin Songsasen, and David H. Reed. Occurrence of Three Felids across a Network of Protected Areas in Thailand: Prey, Intra-guild, and Habitat Associations. BIOTROPICA 0(0): 1–8 2012

Acting fast helps avoid extinction

F

ailure to act quickly on evidence of rapid population decline has led to the first mammal extinction in Australia in the last 50 years, the Christmas Island Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus murrayi). The fate of another iconic species, the migratory Orange-bellied Parrot (Neophema chrysogaster), monitored intensively for over 20 years, hangs in the balance. To inform future conservation management and decision making, the authors investigated the decision process that has led to the plight of both species. Their analysis suggests three globally relevant recommendations for minimizing species extinction worldwide: (1) informed, empowered, and responsive governance and leadership is essential;

(2) processes that ensure institutional accountability must be in place, and; (3) decisions must be made whilst there is an opportunity to act. The bottom line is that,unless responsive and accountable institutional processes are in place, decisions will be delayed and extinction will occur. Download the paper here ------------Source: Tara G. Martin, Simon Nally, Andrew A. Burbidge, Sophie Arnall, Stephen T. Garnett, Matt W. Hayward, Linda F. Lumsden, Peter Menkhorst, Eve McDonaldMadden & Hugh P. Possingham. Acting fast helps avoid extinction. Conservation Letters 0 (2012) 1–7 Copyright and Photocopying: c 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 21


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

regional news

Phylogeny and Biogeography of the Core Babblers (Aves: Timaliidae)

T

he avian family Timaliidae is a species rich and morphologically diverse component of African and Asian tropical forests. The morphological diversity within the family has attracted interest from ecologists and evolutionary biologists, but systematists have long suspected that this diversity might also mislead taxonomy, and recent molecular phylogenetic work has supported this hypothesis. The authors produced and analysed a data set of 6 genes and almost 300 individuals to assess the evolutionary history of the family. Although phylogenetic analysis required extensive adjustment of program settings, the authors ultimately produced a well-resolved phylogeny for the family. The resulting phylogeny provided strong support for major subclades within the family but extensive paraphyly of genera. Only 3 genera represented by more than 3 species were monophyletic. Biogeographic reconstruction indicated a mainland Asian origin for the family and most major clades. Colonization of Africa,

Sundaland, and the Philippines occurred relatively late in the family’s history and was mostly unidirectional. Several putative babbler genera, such as Robsonius, Malia, Leonardina, and Micromacronus are only distantly related to the Timaliidae. Read full paper here -------------Source: Robert G. Moyle, Michael J . Andersen, Carl H. Oliveros, Frank D. Steinhemer, and Sushma Reddy. Phylogeny and Biogeography of the Core Babblers (Aves: Timaliidae). Syst. Biol. 61(4):631–651, 2012

Serious contractions in wintering distribution and decline in abundance of Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri

O

bserved maximum numbers of Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri in China, the traditional core wintering range, declined from 16,792 during 1987–1993 to 2,131 during 2003–2011, accompanied by a dramatic contraction in range. Coordinated coverage of the most important sites in the middle and lower Yangtze River floodplain in January 2011 found only 194 Baer’s Pochard. The reported wintering population outside China declined from 719 in 2000–2005 to 48 in 2006–2010. The world population in 2011 apparently did not exceed 1,000 individuals, and the true number was most likely many fewer. The species seems to have ceased wintering regularly outside mainland China, where none had been found by mid-February 2012 despite coverage of favoured sites. Urgent, coordinated actions are needed to protect this species which may soon be on the verge of extinction in the wild. Read full paper here -------------Source: Xin Wang, Mark Barter, Leicao, Jinyu Lei and Anthony D. Fox. Serious contractions in wintering distribution and decline in abundance of Baer’s Pochard Aythya baeri. Bird Conservation International (2012) 0:1–7. © BirdLife International, 2012. doi:10.1017/S0959270912000214

Moult of primaries in Long-toed Stints (Calidris subminuta) at a non-breeding area in Thailand

A

dult Long-toed Stints Calidris subminuta, spending the non-breeding season at a coastal fresh to brackish water site in central Thailand, commenced moult of primaries soon after their arrival from their breeding grounds. The estimated duration of primary moult was 70 days, with starting and completion dates 14 August (standard deviation + 13.3 days) and 23 October. Juvenile/first-year birds did not moult any flight feathers during the 1 July to 31 December study period. The adaptive significance of this rapid moult of flight feathers is probably linked to the influence of monsoon upon food abundance. Birds under went a rapid moult of flight feathers towards the end of the southwest monsoon (wet season), when food was most abundant, and completed their moult before the onset of the dry season caused many wetland habitats to dry up . Read full paper here -------------Source: Philip D. Round, George A. Gale and Somchai Nimnuan. Moult of primaries in Long-toed Stints (Calidris subminuta) at a non-breeding area in Thailand. Ringing & Migration (2012) 27, 32 – 37

22


3

The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Rarest of the rare

Indochinese Silvered Langur: Guardian spirit of the forest

I

n early April 2011, CEPF project staff visited the Dong Sakee spirit forest in the Dong Phouvieng National Provincial Protected Area (NPA), Savannakhet Province, Laos as part of a fact-finding mission to review a letter of inquiry from the Laos Wildlife Conservation Association. The Dong Sakee spirit forest covers 180 ha and the villagers believe their ancestral spirits inhabit the langurs and harming them or their forest home therefore brings bad luck. Sadly this view is not retained amongst villages that have been converted to Christianity, who are now logging th e forest, or amongst the Vietnamese monkey bone traders who visit the villages in the area. During this visit, groups of Indochinese Silvered Langur Trachypithecus germaini (up to 10 individuals including female with infant) and Red-shanked Douc Langur Pygathrix nemaeus (3 individuals) were recorded -------Photos and news source: Jonathan C Eames

23


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project updates PROJECT UPDATeS

Recently completed projects For the full list of funded projects and final reports, please log in here

Project title

Amount (USD)

Identifying Priority Populations and Reviewing Current Known Distributions for Threatened Bat and Turtle Species in Northern and Central Vietnam

42,855

Quang Tri Center of Education and Consultancy on Agriculture and Rural Development

Surveys for additional information of Edwards’s Pheasant (Lophura edwardsi) in Dakrong Nature Reserve, Quang Tri

19,825

Wildlife Alliance, Inc.

Improving Wildlife Law Enforcement in Cambodia to Protect CEPF Priority Species From Overexploitation and Illegal Wildlife Trade

99,291

Nov 2009Oct 2011

Download

Westfälischer Zoologischer Garten Münster GmbH Allwetterzoo Münster (Munster Zoo)

Ecology and conservation of Green Peafowl Pavo muticus in Cambodia

9,789

Mar 2011Mar 2012

Download

Wildlife Conservation Society

Strengthening capacity for wildlife product identification in Indochina

19,762

Apr 2010 Apr 2012

Download

Wildlife Conservation Society

Leveraging support from the Vietnamese corporate sector to reduce illegal consumption of protected threatened species

19,946

Mar 2010 Mar 2012

Download

Wildlife Conservation Society

Preventing poisoning of Cambodia’s Vultures

19,970

Grantee Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES)

Grant term Final report

Jan 2010Dec 2011

Download

Mar 2011 Mar 2012

Download

Feb 2011 Feb 2012

T

he Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (www.cepf.net) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. CEPF began a $9.5 million five year investment plan in Indochina in July 2008, in partnership with BirdLife International, who provide the Regional Implementation Team (www.birdlifeindochina.org/ cepf). As the RIT in Indochina, BirdLife International will: raise awareness of CEPF; solicit grant applications and assist organisations to make applications; review applications; give small grants and jointly make decisions with CEPF on large grants; and monitor and evaluate progress with the investment strategy.

Download 24


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

CEPF supervision mission visit to Laos: home of the Saola

I

n the first week of April 2012, staff from CEPF and its Regional Implementation Team in Indo-Burma visited Xaychamphone District, Bolikhamxay Province, close to the boundary of the Phou Sithone Endangered Species Conservation Area (PST ESCA). This is the location where the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Laos programme is implementing the CEPF funded project entitled ‘Protection of a priority population of Saola: flagship species of the IndoBurma Hotspot’. The working group also visited the capture site of Saola in August 2010 and forest areas in the PST ESCA.

Saola to the district, province and amongst local villagers. Bolikhamxay Province and Xaychamphone district government officials are both showing commitment to the conservation and awareness of the Saola. This is evidenced by the agreement in 2011 by government officials to use the Saola as the provincial mascot, a Saola model which was developed by the province to display at celebrations and festivals such as the 450th anniversary of Vientiane and the Provincial Tourism Fair, and also the recent proposal by Xaychamphone officials for a Saola conservation area.

The capture and death of the Saola was not anticipated and was regrettable. The capture and death resulted in a heightened level of awareness of the importance of

Results of the supervision visit showed an increase in the public profile of the Saola amongst Bolikhamxay provincial government officials and villagers near the PST ESCA. WCS has developed a proposal and submitted to the MacArthur Foundation in which the PST ESCA is identified as one possible key area of activity focus with several activities complementing the existing CEPF grant --------Source: Nguyen Hoang Long, CEPF Project Officer for Laos, Thailand and Vietnam Photo: Jonathan C. Eames

Jack Tordoff (CEPF) and Alex McWilliam (WCS) geting into the head of a Saola collected by a villager in Phon Ngam Village.

BirdLife International and CEPF invite new Letters of Inquiry from civil society for biodiversity conservation in the Indo-Burma Hotspot

B

irdLife International in Indochina, in its role as the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for CEPF in the Indo-Burma Hotspot, has recently invited proposals for small grants from non-government organisations, community groups, and other civil society organisations. This is the fourth call for proposals issued by BirdLife and CEPF for the Indo-Burma Hotspot. The deadline for receipt of proposals is 17h30 (Hanoi time) on 1st August 2012 but applicants are strongly encouraged to submit prior to the deadline, in order that review and processing of their applications can begin sooner. This call for proposals covers the four countries of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, and addresses gaps in the current CEPF investment portfolio. Full details can be found in the Call for Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) in English, in Khmer, in Lao, in Thai, in Vietnamese or at www.cepf.net.

applications from local civil society organisations. BirdLife and CEPF welcome applications from past and current grantees, as well as organizations that have not yet received CEPF funding. Under the earlier calls, a total over 250 applications were received, of which nearly 100 were supported. A full list of funded projects and final completion reports can be viewed here. Letter of Inquiry form in English Letter of Inquiry form in Khmer Letter of Inquiry form in Lao Letter of Inquiry form in Thai Letter of Inquiry form in Vietnamese Letter of Inquiry form in Thai (to be available soon) For assistance, contact the Regional Implementation Team at cepf-rit@birdlife. org.vn or telephone 84 (0)4 3514 8904; Extension 28

It is important that applicants familiarise themselves with the investment strategy and strategic directions for the Indo-Burma Hotspot first, which are summarised in English, Khmer, Lao, Thai and Vietnamese here and available in full in English here (PDF 2.5MB). Please note that, for the 2012 call for proposals, priority will be given to 25


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

Cambodia - Community Based Eco-tourism and Sarus Crane Conservation

M

lup Baitong (www.mlup-baitong. org) “Community Livelihood Development for Supporting Sarus Crane Conservation in Kampong Trach, Cambodia� (Oct 1, 2010-Jun 30, 2013) Anlong Pring Sarus Crane Reserve in

Kampong Trach District of Kampot Province, Cambodia, is located on the western edge of the Mekong delta, in a once extensive area of seasonally inundated grassland which is still one of the main areas for the Sarus Crane in the non-breeding season. The reserve was established in January 2011 (with the

support of BirdLife) by prime ministerial decree and is under the management of the Forestry Administration. Poor farmers, who live around the reserve area, used to fish and to hunt, disturbing the Sarus Crane. The project will make them aware about these unsustainable practices and provide them with alternative means for sustainable income generation. Together with CEPF and other related agencies, Mlup Baitong has implemented the Community Livelihood Development for Supporting Sarus Crane Conservation project funded by CEPF. The project aims at supporting Sarus Crane Conservation through generating income from Community Based Eco-tourism (CBET) services and promoting Self Help Groups to provide micro loans for agricultural micro enterprises to create income.

Education signboards installed in the villages to educate people about Sarus Crane conservation and environmental protection. Photo: Mlup Baitong

Mlup Baitong is closely cooperating with authorities at all levels to provide administrative and technical support for the establishment of CBET by facilitating farmers to form a Community Livelihood Development Management Committee (CLDMC) and a CBET Group (CBETG) to prepare bylaws. The CLDMC and CBETG play an important role to manage and provide CBET services. Mlup Baitong also

Visitors watching cranes in Anlong Pring Sarus Crane Reserve. Phot: Mlup Baitong

provided trainings to them on management, administration, report writing, environment awareness, and guiding skills and supported them to establish CBET services such as construction of information centre, check point, toilet and parking area. At the same time, Mlup Baitong produced 1,000 leaflets and distributed them to NGOs, hotels and travel agencies to attract national and international tourists to encourage visits to the Anlong Pring Sarus Crane Reserve. Additionally it installed some education signboards to educate villagers about the importance of Sarus Crane conservation and environmental protection. CLDMC and CBETG have just started providing a tourist guide service for bird watching to visitors in March 2012. 26


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

W

PROJECT UPDATeS

Conserving A Suite of Cambodia’s Highly Threatened Bird Species

ildlife Conservation Society (www. wcs.org) “Conserving A Suite of Cambodia’s Highly Threatened Bird Species” (Oct 1, 2009 - Jun 30, 2013) During this quarter different species were at different stages in their breeding cycle. With water levels on the lake falling, most of the waterbird species were busy feeding large chicks. Data has not been analysed yet so we don’t know how this year’s counts will differ from last year’s record figures, but we expect them to be lower or at least not to have risen by as much as usual. Although protection and monitoring efforts were maintained, the cancellation of the fishing lot which overlapped with Prek Toal meant the loss of the fishing lot owners patrol force, and consequently there was more illegal fishing in Prek Toal Core Area and more disturbance to the waterbirds.

took place as usual, and patrol activities and reporting were tightened up which led to the rapid detection of new areas of encroachment. In response a series of meetings were held and some agreements were made in which people agreed to return the illegally obtained land to natural grassland. The project does not tolerate any encroachment; even the smallest patch lost is the subject of negotiated return. Guides from the Sam Veasna Center provided training in bird identification and tourism services to some of the local guides at Stoung and Chikraeng BFCAs. In April at those sites floricans were very conspicuous, with birds displaying and involved in aerial chases. This is perhaps the most exciting time of year on the grasslands, besides the floricans the last of the non-breeding visitors are yet to leave and there is always the chance of an interesting passage migrant.

Towards the end of the quarter the waterbirds fledged and dispersed into the flooded forest and out onto the floodplain. As an indication of this a good selection of storks including eight Greater Adjutants were seen in Baray BFCA in early June. A family party of the scarce Black-necked Storks were seen nearby, although the latter had probably bred on site. Normal Bengal Florican activities were slightly disrupted this year by staff involvement in the five-yearly survey of the entire Cambodian florican population. However, annual monitoring

Sarus Crane is one of those species that lingers into April in the floodplain grassland; although by that time around half of the Cambodian population has moved north to gather at Ang Trapeang Thmor. This year was a relatively poor breeding season for the small Painted Stork colony at Ang Trapeang Thmor owing to disturbance from fishermen. Project activities such as ecotourism training continued as normal at the site and a few notable birds were seen, including a fine male Near Threatened Oriental Plover and an adult Rose-coloured

Starling, the first record for Cambodia. Towards the end of the period the Sarus Cranes returned to breed in Cambodia’s Northern Plains. Their timing coincided with the end of the breeding season for some of Cambodia’s most iconic species: Whiteshouldered Ibis and the three Critically Endangered vultures. The vultures enjoyed a relatively good breeding season with eight of the eleven nests found this year successfully hatching one chick each. At Tmatboey ecotourism site the community protected six White-shouldered Ibis nests that between them fledged nine chicks. Training of local guides and support staff at the exciting new jungle-temple site of Prey Veng continued, with the first few visitors enjoying views of White-winged Duck and Giant Ibis. Our partners SMP continued to expand the Ibis Rice initiative, drawing up agreements and distributing seed to nine villages, up from six last year. Rice was purchased from only six villages, owing to quality issues, but totalled a record 142 tonnes. This indicates the success of this scheme, which continues to expand, and serves as a model mechanism for linking increasing community income to conservation through wildlife-friendly farming --------Source: Simon Mahood, Technical Advisor, Tonle Sap and Vulture projects; Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia Program

Cambodia - Community Based Eco-tourism..... (continued) So far the CBETG received 61 visitors (42 Cambodian and 16 foreign visitors) and made US$ 175 of income and ensured the safety of Sarus Crane and its habitat. This income is used for CBETG members’ benefit, community development, maintenance of CBET facilities, and particularly for Sarus Crane conservation. Community members are satisfied with the result of CBET development. They are committed to stop illegal activities and to participate to conserve Sarus Crane and its habitat in the reserve area. Mlup Baitong will provide further trainings to farmers who are interested in CBET services and facilitate CLDMC and CBETG to form groups of service providers, such as for food preparation, souvenirs production, bicycle/oxcart/boat services etc. Mlup Baitong is also finding other resources to develop further CBET facilities to ensure the community has sufficient capacity to manage and provide good CBET services to visitors. This will empower the CBETG to provide significant contribution to the conservation of the Sarus Crane and its habitat and alternative and sustainable income opportunities to farmers in the project area -----------Source: Mlup Baitong

27


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

Stung Treng Ramsar Site in Cambodia: Integrating Fisheries Management and Wetlands Conservation

T

he WorldFish Center (www. worldfishcenter.org) “Stung Treng Ramsar Site in Cambodia – Integrating Fisheries Management and Wetlands Conservation” (Apr 1, 2011-Mar 31, 2013) The Stung Treng Ramsar Site in Northern Cambodia is one of the most important wetland complex for biodiversity in the

Mekong River Basin. Placed onto the List of Wetlands of International Importance in 1999 (under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands), a remarkable feature of this section of the Mekong mainstream is the iconic channel forest which characterizes the site in addition to providing key habitat and sources of food for several endangered species of mammals, birds and fish. The

View of the Mekong river in the Stun Treng Ramsar site. Photo: Kaitlin Almack.

site is home to a population of the White Shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davison. The Irrawaddy dolphin Orcaella brevirostris, and the iconic Giant Catfish Pangasianodon gigas, use the area for feeding and migration. Yet despite this richness of biodiversity, there is widespread poverty and endemic food insecurity in the area, with some arguing peoples’ very poverty is a threat to the resource itself. The Ramsar site is home to 21 villages, with a total population of approximately 12,000 residents as well as significant numbers of seasonal fishers who come to the area following the annual fish migrations, particularly Henicorhynchus spp. (so-called Trey Riel in Khmer language). Fishing is for both home consumption and sale, and represents a significant income for poorest villagers who rely on it to buy rice. Local livelihoods are complex and dependant on a combination of fishing, farming and off-farm activities such as clearing land, collecting NTFP, and hunting wildlife. Some of the major threats to the ecological integrity and the local community livelihoods in the area are over-fishing and destructive fishing. All 21 villages have each established a Community Fisheries (CFi) yet many lack capacity to pursue current management objectives.

With the CEPF support, WorldFish has been assisting the local CFi groups to develop and test conservation protocols for selected deep pool habitats as dry season fish refuges, with an objective to enhance natural fisheries productivity. The project has successfully facilitated the involvement of local community leaders as well as women and poor landless fishers into the planning and design of the protocols. The main approach chosen by the participants is to protect the deep pools as a fish no-take zone during dry season--- a peak season for fishing. In principle, nobody is allowed to fish in three deep pools, Preah Sakkon, Kol 46, and Anlong Kambor, selected based on a number of criteria, integrating both biological and social concerns. The communities prioritised these sites because negative social impact from restricted access to these fishing grounds seemed relatively limited. For example, if many poor families relied on one deep pool site as the only fishing ground to which they can access during dry season, the site was not selected. For each of the selected deep pools, key stakeholder groups ---those who heavily depend on fishing at the site---were consulted as to what forms of social safeguards should 28


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

Stung Treng Ramsar Site...(continued) fish.

Sustainable Livelihoods for Mekong Biodiversity and Critical Wetland Resource Conservation in Cambodia

 

A focus Group Discussion with local women in the Stun Treng Ramsar site. Photo: Kaitlin Almack.

be put in place to prevent the negative social impact and when. Poor fisher households and widows were identified as vulnerable stakeholders and immediate social safeguards were sought for each group. At Anlong Kambor, for example, the community decided to allow some fishing to continue in a 50 meter buffer from the riverbank by the villagers on Koh Heb, who appear to have no other viable livelihood option during dry season. The challenge of gaining community buy-in was overcome to some extent by integrating these social safeguard measures into the management rules for the deep pools.

Local community members identifying a deep pool site on the map. Photo: Kaitlin Almack.

These management rules have been piloted since April 2012, and the CFi representatives report that the development of patrolling networks has already significantly deterred destructive fishing in the project sites. The rotating membership of patrol teams among local villagers limits the opportunity for bribery. By facilitating locally determined zoning rules, combined with a safeguard to mitigate the negative impact of conservation on the poorest families in the community, the project has promoted the spirit of voluntary compliance. The local community representatives were able to negotiate with seasonal migrant fishers so that they agreed to move elsewhere to

The effectiveness of the fish refuges for resource recovery is yet to be observed. However, this participatory approach to fisheries management will be refined over the course of next 12 months based on the principle of adaptive management and serve as a model that can be replicated for other deep pools in the Ramsar site. By placing the local resource users in change of developing management objectives and rules, and enforcing those rules, the project has started a process of empowering local communities in the management of the deep pool sites, in turn contributing to long-term sustainability of fisheries management in the Ramsar site -----------Source: Kaitlin Almack and Yumiko Kura, the WorldFish Center

C

ambodian Rural Development Team-CRDT (www.crdt.org.kh) “Sustainable Livelihoods for Mekong Biodiversity and Critical Wetland Resource Conservation in Cambodia” (Sep 2011 - Jun 2013). Svay Chek Village, Koh Knhae Commune, Sambo District, early in the rice growing season in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Ms. Hy Phalla and her husband, Ma Nam, stand before a trio of chicken pens that show off improved techniques in pen and fence construction. Twelve out of 16 chicken Community based groups (CBOs) set up since the project’s inception in September 2010 have studied the technique of family chicken raising; a change from their traditional practices, they are already seeing higher chicken harvests. Of the 30 CBOs spread over 19 Villages and 4 Communes, 16 are raising chickens and 14 raising pigs. All CBO members have been trained in animal raising techniques, System of Rice Identification (SRI) and all committees in trained in the financial aspects of running a self-sustaining organisation. There are 675 beneficiaries of chicken and pig groups involved with project (420 women and 255 men). Up to now all CBOs have received a grant to start implementation of new technique on their own. In total, the project released $20,370 for CBOs raising chickens, pigs, 29


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Sustainable Livelihoods....(continued)

PROJECT UPDATeS

How to catch a Green Peafowl?

W

estfälischer Zoologischer Garten Münster GmbH Allwetterzoo Münster (Munster Zoo) (www.allwetterzoo. de): “Ecology and conservation of Green Peafowl Pavo muticus in Cambodia” (March 2011 - March 2012) The Green Peafowl Pavo muticus is a spectacular galliform that was once abundant and widespread in Southeast Asia, but following catastrophic declines the species has largely disappeared from much of its previous range. Ongoing intense pressures, such as widespread hunting for meat and the males’ train feathers, collection of eggs and chicks, human disturbance, habitat loss and fragmentation, have left many small populations isolated, increasing their susceptibility to local extinction. Therefore, the Green Peafowl is currently listed as globally Endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. At present, key populations of global importance remain in northern and eastern Cambodia.

and for environmental education groups.

The chicken raising CBO in Svay Chek village led by Ms. Hy Phalla has 19 members implementing project By practicing the new techniques to raise pigs and activities. She reported that since she members chickens beneficiaries were able to build chicken received money from CRDT, she could improve the houses and fence and could select a good seed for the quality of animal husbandry. Based on monthly animals. The community desired that some materials recordings the members have earned from March are from local sources; the farmers were very to June 2012: 1,270,000.00 riel ($310) from chickens enthusiastic about these activities. sold. In addition, the group saves money every month, the total saving up to date being $250. Ms.Hy Phalla CRDT project staff and CBO executive committees are mentions that her own income from sold chickens regularly following up with farmers and their activities. comes to about 500,000 riel ($125) during the last three months It has been shown that members are able to conduct regular monthly meetings in livelihood groups to share ----------experience and solve problems. Every month they are Photo and news source: Sun Mao and Rory saving money in groups to ensure long-term financial Mccormick, Cambodian Rural Development Team stability. 25 groups of 30 members each are saving a total of 3,715,500 riel (around $900).

How to capture a Green Peafowl for radio-tagging? This was the question the authors were faced with in 2011, at the beginning of a previously planned PhD study on the ecology and conservation of Green Peafowl in Cambodia. One of the study aims was to capture and fit with necklace radio transmitters 10 adult males and 10 adult females. For further details of findings, please read full report here --------Source: Markus Handschuh University of Freiburg (Germany), World Pheasant Association & Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB, Cambodia). G@llinformed issue 7, July 2012

30


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

Every elephant is vital to the survival of the species in Laos

T

here is no doubt that the elephant populations in Laos, both wild and captive, are in rapid decline. With as few as 470 captive elephants and a lesser number estimated the wild, the future of this endangered species within Laos is bleak and as such every elephant is significant to its very survival.

the infection. Progress has been slow as the veterinary team has fed and re-hydrated the animal by hand. Little by little there has been marked improvement in Phu Thongkoon’s condition, with the elephant now on the road to a full recovery. Phu Thongkoon’s illness is the first case of tetanus known to ElefantAsia in over a decade of working in Laos. Tetanus is extremely rare in elephants and most usually fatal. Specialised literature received from other Asian elephant range States indicate a greater percentage of fatalities from the disease than that of recovery.

With this in mind, the ElefantAsia veterinary team has been working around the clock to provide treatment to an elephant suffering from tetanus. Phu Thongkoon, a bull elephant from Paklay district was transferred to the Elephant Hospital hosted at the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury over five weeks ago. Unable to eat, nor drink Treatment of Phu Thongkoon hasn’t come on his own, the elephant was extremely cheap with costs rising in excess of $2,500, weak needing injections of anti-toxins to fight however this sick elephant has received tremendous public support from Laos and abroad. Generous donations have been sent to ElefantAsia to ensure Phu Thongkoon receives the best possible care for as long as is needed.

Thongkoon being hand fed. Photo: ElefantAsia

Whilst Phu Thongkoon has battled against this life threatening disease, the Asian elephant population in Laos faces its own battle against the threat of extinction. Currently the elephant birth rate in Laos is on average 4-5 births per annum opposed to 15 deaths, a trend which indicates the

population is not sustainable. The country has a breeding reservoir of as few as sixty female elephants (those being under the age of 35). An area of particular importance for elephant breeding is Thongmixay, the district remaining the only area in Laos with significant births. The district accounted for 50% of elephant births in 2011 and 72% during 2010.

The Asian elephant holds great cultural importance in Laos, as well as serving to contribute to the national economy with approximately 9,000 people across the country reliant on income generated by working elephants. Captive elephants are also a huge draw for international visitors in a growing tourism industry and will provide substantial revenue for Laos in the future. In addition to low rates of breeding, pressure Unquestionably Laos needs to protect its on the captive population is intensified by national heritage; the country needs to the export and rental of live Lao elephants to safeguard its elephant populations with foreign countries for use in zoos and circuses. particular emphasis on its genetic reservoir. Export of an endangered species such as the This reservoir is imperative to the survival of Asian elephant in Laos is regulated by both the species in Laos. the Government and CITES. Non-governmental Organisation, ElefantAsia Currently the Lao Government is proceeding works in collaboration with the Department with the lease of six elephants to Japan in of Livestock and Fisheries implementing the a Government to Government transaction. Lao Captive Elephant Care and Management Known as “Japan-Laos goodwill elephants”, Programme which administers free the majority of the animals due for export veterinary care to the working elephants of are understood to be young females from Laos. The project activities also facilitate the Thongmixay district. This export, scheduled registration and micro-chipping of the captive for early July, will undoubtedly jeopardise elephant population which is sponsored the captive elephant population, dramatically by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund impacting on the number of future elephant (CEPF) births in Laos, whilst potentially placing -------pressure on remaining wild populations as Source: Tracy Brookshaw, ElefantAsia, Project temptation to illegally capture and tame wild Manager; www.elefantasia.org elephants is intensified. 31


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

Protection of a priority population of Saola: flagship species of the Indo-Burma Hotspot

W

ildlife Conservation Society (www. wcs.org) “Protection of a priority population of Saola: flagship species of the Indo-Burma Hotspot” (Aug 1, 2010-Jun 30, 2013) With CEPF support the Wildlife Conservation Society and the government of Lao PDR are establishing a strong foundation for ongoing protection of Saola in a conservation forest area where the species was sighted in late 2010, the first confirmed sighting of this critically endangered species for more than a decade.

Figure 1. Member of the WCS/GoL survey team displays evidence of a Saola captured in 2009. Photo: EWMP/WCS Lao PDR Program

In August 2010 a Saola was caught by members of a local community in north eastern Bolikhamxay Province, Lao PDR. The Wildlife Conservation Society Lao PDR Program played a vital role in attempts to save this individual and following its death proceeded to secure the specimen for future research as it may provide answers to key questions of the animal’s biology. In response to this incident the district and provincial government quickly moved to establish the Phou Sithone Endangered Species Conservation Area (PST ESCA) with the aim of conserving critical habitat in areas known to contain Saola. Located in the Northern Annamite Mountains the Phou Sithone Endangered Species Conservation Area covers approximately 14,200 hectares and also contains other species of high conservation value such as Clouded Leopard, Sun Bear, and gibbon species. The objective of the current 2 year project is to improve the management of the area, particularly focused on reducing threats to Saola. Thus far the project implementation team has successfully implemented surveys for Saola, increased support for Saola conservation through community outreach and awareness, and conducted preliminary enforcement reconnaissance. All project

activities have been highly participatory and involved staff from local government and members of the communities who live nearby the conservation forest. Surveys were conducted throughout north eastern Bolikhamxay, including the PST ESCA, with the aim of locating areas with a high likelihood of containing Saola. From community based interviews and ground truthing conducted in 15 villages a total of 45 new Saola records were recorded, of which 35 have occurred since 2001. Though this was encouraging and suggests that Saola persist in north east Bolikhamxay the data also provided some alarming figures including 12 Saola captures since 2001 all of which resulted in the death of individual. Based on the survey information, the recent Saola capture in August 2010, and the declaration by the government of the new conservation forest area, it was decided that all further project work would be focused in and around the PST ECA. Following this project staff led by WCS conducted several planning meetings which culminated in a stakeholder workshop to develop a management conceptual model for the PST ESCA. As part of this process local communities identified threats to Saola

Figure 2. Members of Khamkhouna village pledge to support Saola conservation. Photo: EWMP/WCS Lao PDR Program

and the overall biodiversity of the PST ESCA, interventions to reduce those threats, as well as an overall goal for future management. Key interventions identified were to build awareness of conservation and the status of Saola in local communities, improved land management, and enforcement of laws and local regulations through forest patrolling. Based on the results of the stakeholder workshop our community outreach and awareness team successfully completed a campaign in local communities around the PST ESCA to further the conservation knowledge of the communities and build pride to conserve this beautiful creature that is a symbol of the province and the nation. This campaign was conducted in 12 villages 32


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

 

Protection of a priority...(continued) and 11 schools reaching more than 3600 recipients and involving several interactives techniques including theatre and educational games. The most recent activity completed is three months of reconnaissance law enforcement. Due to its remote location very little is known about the area so enforcement reconnaissance teams collected baseline information that will allow management authorities to better develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce threats to Saola. Reconnaissance teams conducted 54 days of patrolling covering over 350 kilometres in the PST ESCA. In addition to the valuable information collected, the teams also removed over 4000 snares, an average of more than 74 per day, and also destroyed 11 hunting camps.

On of the enforcement reconnaissance teams, snares collected and hunting camps destroyed in PST ESCA. Photo: EWMP/WCS Lao PDR Program

Currently WCS is working with the local government and communities to develop local regulations and zoning boundaries for the PST ESCA. These, along with national laws, will provide clear guidelines about access to PST ESCA and what activities are permitted in the conservation forest area. The next step for the project following finalisation of the regulations and zoning will be to implement the formal enforcement strategy incorporating community incentives --------Source: Alex McWilliam, Operations Manager, WCS Lao Program.

L

ao Wildlife Conservation Association (LWCA): “Participatory survey, assessment and conservation of Green peafowl (Pavo muticus) in Dong Khan Thung Provincial Protected Area of Champasak province, the south-western Lao PDR” (Oct 2011 - Sep 2012) Once reportedly largely occurred across the Lao PDR, the endangered green peafowl (Pavo mutiacus) is today restricted to small pockets of forest in some parts of the country, with little is known about their abundance and distribution or even there has been never confirmation of their presence on the ground. The Lao Wildlife Conservation Association (Lao WCA) in partnership with government of Lao PDR has conducted the first assessment and conservation of the green peafowl at the far south-western corner of Lao PDR, namely Dong Khan Thung (DKT) provincial protected area, approximately 1,700 square kilometres, which borders by Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west. The project has received generous funding support by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

show clearly that the DKT’ forest still contains important habitats that support viable populations of green peafowl (and other endangered mammals and birds) that widely distributed across the area. The green peafowl reportedly occupied approximately 52% of the area, and 21 of a total of 40 listening stations were recorded calls of the birds.

The results of this study were presented to local government agencies, and used baseline data for developing an effective management strategy to save this endangered birds (and other key wildlife) from extinction/extirpation. The Lao WCA together with local government agencies, and local communities have developed a conceptual model to search appropriate interventions to reduce emerging threats (i.e., poaching and habitat encroachment). Of most urgent conservation interventions needed at present are (i) land-use planning, (ii) outreach, and (iii) law enforcement. Therefore, to achieve the goal of maintaining the viable population of green peafowl in this natural habitat, it requires more funding and technical assistance to support our conservation From February to May 2012, fieldwork activities on the ground was undertaken using a grid-based --------questionnaire, listening stations, and Source: Chanthavy Vongkhamheng, PhD. ground walking to generate better Senior Conservation Scientist understanding on their current occurrence, Lao Wildlife Conservation Association abundance and distribution. The results 33


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project UPDATES

The Suspension of the Xayaburi Dam: Temporary Reprieve or Turning Point for Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Water Management?

T

he Henry L. Stimson Center (www.stimson.org) “Mekong Decision Points: Building a Dialogue between Policymakers and Civil Society on Water Management“ (Apr 1, 2011-Mar 31, 2012)

project at the highest levels of Laos’ three neighbouring governments made clear that the project also posed a threat to the region’s hard-won peace and stability.

The extensive predictable impacts documented by the SEA The Lower Mekong River and millions of people who depend had a powerful impact on civil society and governments on for their human security and livelihoods received an alike, as did its call for a ten-year moratorium on mainstream unexpected reprieve in 2011. Despite the array of powerful dams pending a fuller examination of the huge risks and political and commercial pressures behind the project, the uncertainties. Chief among these are the irreversible possibility of cooperative and sustainable development of consequences of turning the still free-flowing river with its the Lower Mekong mainstream has been kept open by a unequalled bounty of wild fish and aquatic life and flood fortuitous set of circumstances. These include, especially, the borne nutrients into a series of slow moving if not stagnant, prior commitment of the four Lower Mekong countries— polluted, methane producing, and silt capturing lakes. The Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam--to a treaty-based loss of wildlife and biodiversity would be incalculable. set of procedures for notification, prior consultation and agreement (PNPCA) under the 1995 Mekong Agreement In early December the members of MRC Council, its highest and ample evidence regarding the serious and inequitable governing body, agreed on the “need for further study impact of mainstream dams on the environment and human on the sustainable development and management of the security. Mekong River including impact from mainstream hydropower development projects.” The Council “agreed in principle to The first of up to 12 dams planned for the Lao, Lao-Thai, approach the Government of Japan and other international and Cambodian stretches of the river, the future of the development partners to support the conduct of further 32-metre high Xayaburi dam has huge environmental and study.” The formal decision had already been agreed by the socioeconomic consequences for all of the Lower Mekong four Prime Ministers of the MRC countries in the wings of a countries, including Laos itself. An extensive Strategic regional meeting in late November. Environmental Review (SEA) commissioned by the MRC by a team of experts found that the planned mainstream The final ultimate fate of the Xayaburi dam and up to eleven dams would block the spawning migration of hundreds other projects in Laos, on the Thai-Lao border and Cambodia of fish species and trap vital silt-borne nutrients, thereby remains to be seen, but for once “business as usual” in the jeopardizing the food security, health, and livelihoods construction of environmentally destructive hydropower of 60-million people. The concerns about the Xayaburi dams encountered an unforeseen obstacle.

The construction of environmentally and socioeconomically destructive dams continues uninterrupted on the upper half of the Mekong River in China’s Yunnan Province, and on major tributaries in Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. But as of early 2012 three critical factors have for the time being stalled the first proposed mainstream dam on the Lower Mekong: The Transboundary Difference - Growing awareness of transboundary impacts is a game-changer. Governments have begun to consider the regional political consequences of the mainstream projects as more than domestic concerns. The December 2011 decision by the Mekong Council to indefinitely defer the project pending further study underscored that the biggest threat of these proposed projects - their transboundary impacts - could also be the river’s saving grace. Until Xayaburi, with the exception of Laos’ Nam Theun II dam, all of the large dams built on tributaries of the Lower Mekong had been treated as purely domestic projects even when they had transboundary impact. The fact that mainstream dams have transboundary impacts inevitably has drawn in new actors and additional national policy considerations.

Institutions Matter – Regardless of the MRC’s limited powers, the commitment of the four member governments to a specific protocol for decision-making on mainstream dams has made a crucial difference. Developments since the invocation of the PNPCA process have unmistakably underscored that institutions matter. Whatever the shortcomings of the consultation process, the meetings organised 34


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project UPDATES

The Suspension of the Xayaburi Dam.... (continued) by the MRC in all four countries constituted an impressive logistical and administrative achievement in light of the short-time frame.

The Empowerment of Civil Society - The transboundary difference gave a major boost to civil society in the region as well as spawning a global ‘Save the Mekong’ coalition that collected tens of thousands of signatures. The Xayaburi PNPCA process energized Thai civil society groups to the point of campaigning for or opposing candidates in the 2010 national parliamentary election campaign.

Boat at Pak Ou caves. Photo: Richard P. Cronin.

Concerns about the transboundary consequences of the Xayaburi project as well as the Chinese dams perhaps had its greatest domestic impact in Vietnam, where the government found it useful to loosen restraints on civil society activism in regard to the threat posed to the Mekong Delta by upstream projects.

Vietnamese NGOs held numerous open meetings on the threat of mainstream dams not just with the consent of the government but with the attendance and active participation of local and provincial officials, and in some cases National Assembly representatives. In its formal response to the MRC at the conclusion of the six-month PNPCA review, the Vietnamese government called for at least a ten-year moratorium, “as overwhelmingly recommended by social committees, national and regional NGOs, and many development partners.”

as in the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams. In the first instance, primary responsibility for insisting on action should rest with the governments most affected by the risks and uncertainties posed by these projects and the donor community. Given the possibility that the planned projects will create greater impoverishment rather than rising incomes, the ADB and the World Bank would appear to have a strong institutional rationale for helping with this work. The MRC is the best poised and the most legitimate and appropriate institution to manage such a process.

These developments and other reasons for cautious optimism that the Lower Mekong will remain free of destructive mainstream dam are addressed more fully in a January 2012 report by the Stimson Center of Washington, DC, “Mekong Turning Point: Shared River for a Shared Future.” The full report in PDF form may be viewed here.

Recent reports indicate that the effort to fund the critically important studies is growing. Japan has indicated that it will provide requested assistance and the United States is in the process of both committing significant additional funding to its Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) and promoting the idea through an informal “Friends of the Mekong” group of international donors. Both Sweden and the World Bank have made new commitments of $8.5 and $8 million respectively for sustainable development and resources management. More broadly, the multi-participant Donor Consultative Group has applauded the decision of the MRC Council and committed to give the highest priority to additional studies of sustainable development of the river, including the impact of mainstream dams under the aegis of the MRC. The critical need is get these studies going and maintain the momentum --------Source: Dr. Richard P. Cronin who directs the Southeast Asia Program at the Stimson Center, a Washington, DC-based nongovernment, non-partisan, and non-profit research center that focuses on finding pragmatic solutions for international peace and security through rigorous analysis and outreach.

Whether the delay of the Xayaburi project will be a permanent turning point towards cooperative and sustainable water development depends critically on follow-up action by the MRC, its member countries, and the international donor community to fund the studies necessary to support comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits of proposed dams and water diversions.

Need for a Mekong Standard for EIAs and SIAs In the best case, a new norm, a “Mekong Standard” for project planning, engineering, and environmental and socioeconomic impact assessments will emerge from the proposed additional impact studies and be accepted as a basis for regional decision making. Ideally this Mekong Standard should conform to international best practice

35


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

C

PROJECT UPDATeS

enter for Water Resources Conservation and Development -WARECOD (www.warecod. org.vn) “Strengthening Communities’ Resilience to the Potential Risks from Proposed Dams on the Mekong Mainstream“ (May 1, 2011-Oct 31, 2012)

On 12 and 13 May 2012, WARECOD organised a field trip to the Mekong Delta to investigate the potential impacts of Mekong mainstream dams to downstream Vietnam. Three expert member of Vietnam Rivers Network and five reporters from Agriculture, Saigon

Marketing, The Youth, The Pioneer and Community Newspapers participated in the trip. The group visited three provinces of Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Soc Trang and witnessed serious land erosion, mangrove forest disappearance and widespread pollution. They gave out preliminary estimates on how the water flows of Mekong river and communities’ livelihoods will be affected in case more dams are constructed. See some images from the trip...

Local people built houses very close to the dyke. Are they safe from sea storms? Photo: Sau Nghe and Warecod

Instead of mangrove forest, a dyke of one meter height was built in Nha Mat Ward, Bac Lieu city to prevent land erosion. “The dyke creates a “fake safety” to local residents,” said Duong Van Ni, an expert of Vietnam Rivers Network, “because people think they are now safe from sea disasters and move families closely to the sea for fishing.” How long can few mangrove trees out there survive? Photo: Sau Nghe

Land erosion caused by deforestation in Nha Mat Ward, Bac Lieu Province. Photo: Sau Nghe

Waste dumps next to the sea and residential areas, Ganh Hao district, Bac Lieu Province. Photo: WARECOD

36


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project updates

REPORT: River basin management in Vietnam: Power and

challenges

TỔ CHỨC QUẢN LÝ LƯU VỰC SÔNG Ở VIỆT NAM

QUYỀN LỰC & THÁCH THỨC

the Centre for Sustainable Water Resources Development and Adaptation to Climate Change(CEWAREC), Advisor to Vietnam Rivers Network and Member of Global Water Partnership Southeast Asia (GWPSEA).

During the development of the report, Dr Dao Trong Tu has received contributions from experienced experts in river basin and water management in Vietnam. The report is also a collection of ideas and opinions of relevant managers and scientists in the Dialogue meeting on river basin management in Vietnam held by PanNature in cooperation with Vietnam Water Partnership in Thai Nguyen Province, August enter for People and Nature 2009 and Vietnam’s River workshop: From Reconciliation _PanNature (www. community’s perspectives and policy status nature.org.vn): “Raising Concerns – Reducing Impacts: Providing Inputs to Local organised in Hanoi in May 2011. Development Policies Related to Biodiversity PanNature expects this report to be a useful resource for individuals and and Natural Resources through Engaging agencies who are interested in promoting the Media” (Sep 1, 2009-Aug 31, 2012) general management of water resource, and “Securing Biodiversity and Ecosystem institutionalising administration of river Services in Vietnam Through Analyzing basin and process of updating Vietnam’s Development Policies and Promoting Good Water Resource Law (1998). Download the Governance of Natural Resources” (Apr 1, report here (in Vietnamese language only) 2011-Mar 31, 2013) ----------This policy discussion report is initiated, Source: Center for People and Nature revised and completed by PanNature’s Policy Reconciliation (PanNature) Research Department under professional instructions of Dr Dao Trong Tu, Director of Báo cáo thảo luận chính sách

Nhóm biên soạn: TS. Đào Trọng Tứ Nguyễn Việt Dũng Nguyễn Hải Vân

Hà Nội, 2011

C

Trung tâm Con người và Thiên nhiên

An analysis of attitudes and bear bile use in rural areas of Vietnam

E

ducation for Nature -Vietnam (www. envietnam.org) “Strengthening Public Participation in Tackling the Wildlife Trade in Vietnam” (Jan 1, 2010-Dec 31, 2012) The latest survey, carried out by ENV, indicates that more than 30% of those surveyed in rural communities, mostly in the northern region of Vietnam, have consumed bear bile. Comparing the findings to an earlier ENV study of urban bear bile users, attitudes and behaviours were quite similar between users in rural and urban centres. Read the full report here.

Online species ID to strengthen public’s role in reporting wildlife crime ENV has launched a new and user-friendly online species identification resource aimed at encouraging greater public participation in protecting Vietnam’s wildlife. The Vietnamese-language and web-based species identification resource allows members of the public to identify wildlife species that are commonly observed in trade using key characteristics that distinguish the animal from other similar species. The resource also includes

references to the current legal status of each species, AN ANALYSIS OF ATTITUDES AND BEAR BILE USE IN RURAL AREAS OF VIETNAM and links to ENV’s online wildlife crime reporting system so that users can easily report crimes that they have observed 2012 directly from the webpage or through ENV’s national toll-free Wildlife Crime Hotline. At present, 19 species have been selected for the trial run of the new resource, with additional species to be added during the remaining months of the year. ENV’s new online wildlife identification resource will aid the public in identifying and reporting wildlife crimes. The resource will also be used by ENV’s growing army of young volunteers spread throughout the country, mainly in urban centres, who assist in monitoring business establishments and reporting violations --------Source: Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) 37


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

W

ildlife Conservation Society (www.wcs.org) “Building Awareness and Capacity to reduce the Illegal Cross-Border Trade Of Wildlife From Vietnam To China” (Sep 1, 2009-Aug 31, 2012) Four briefing meetings to government and state agencies were held between April and May 2012 to brief key agencies on the situation of cross-border smuggling and international wildlife trade through Quang Ninh province, based upon WCS’s two-years of work in this province. The agencies included the Vietnam-Wildlife Enforcement Network members (CITES Management Authority, the Forest Protection Department, the Biodiversity Conservation Department, the Market Management Department, the Anti-Smuggling Investigation Department of Customs, the Environmental Police Department, the Rural - Agricultural Security Department, and the Drug Criminal Control Department of Vietnam’s Defence Force), the members of the Quang Ninh provincial Steering Committee for AntiSmuggling, Counterfeit Goods Trading and Commercial Frauds Prevention (People Committee, Forest Protection Department (FPD), Customs, Market Control, Border Army, People’s Court and People’s Procuracy), the National Anticorruption Steering Committee, and members from a number of National Assembly committees. Following these briefing meetings, a number of agencies have requested more detailed information and there have a number of internal government reports on our findings between the central level and Quang Ninh. WCS also hosted a site visit for staff of the Office of Government, and Department of Public Security to Mong Cai city to introduce the area and the issues first hand.

Project UPDATES

“Strengthening capacity for wildlife product identification in Indochina” (Apr 15, 2010 - Apr 15, 2012) Many of the mammal species are threatened by over exploitation to illegally supply the demand in the wildlife trade yet rarely they are seized by enforcement agencies as a whole animal. An identification guide (photo below) to commonly traded wildlife products has been developed to help law enforcement agencies in Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia to quickly identify wildlife products. This guidebook is updated from the first version “An identification guide to commonly traded wildlife products in Vietnam” with more product suggested from other countries.

Interface of the wildlife identification website.

agencies such as forest protection department, customs, border army.

Leverage support from Vietnamese corporate sector to reduce illegal consumption of protected Identification is also a crucial threatened species” (Mar 15, 2010 - Mar 15, 2012)

part in dealing with seizures. For the criminal prosecution cases, agencies have to submit the seized specimen for official identification by authorized institutions. In administrative cases, the identification by them self is sufficient. WCS has developed an online wildlife identification tool specifically for this purpose of selfidentification (www.giamdinhloai.vn). Depending on the information at hands, an enforcement officer has six different approaches to identify a species. The website also has a library of law documents, video clips, images, and research reports related to wildlife and wildlife trade. Users of this species identification website are wildlife law enforcement

As a continuation from a survey and a national launch in 2011, a series of communication activities were run to raise the awareness of staff in FPT, a multinational information technology company, on wildlife conservation issues in Vietnam. An FPT poster design contest about wildlife was launched and received 29 artworks by FPT staff on the message of wildlife conservation. An awarded design was printed on mugs and t-shirts to be given to FPT managers across the corporation. 38


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project UPDATES

Go For Zero consumption of wildlife is counted as one of the 10 notable Corporate Social Responsibility activities of the FPT Corporation and is part of the FPT “For the community” day in March every year. On FPT community day 3rd March this year, FPT leaders such as Mr. Truong Gia Binh - Chairman of FPT board repeated their commitment by visiting the WCS booth. This tiger cub is struggling to open the elevator door for you, how can you help him? It is simple, do not eat him.

Seventy percent of epidemics infecting people origin from wild animals

Under this grant from CEPF, FPT is the first Vietnamese corporate ever to have all the elevator doors in their headquarter buildings to be covered with designs about wildlife protection. Two video clips have been developed through this grant to be shown on LCD screens of the FPT headquarter building in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city in addition to being promoted on other communication outlets. The videos features actors and actresses who are all FPT staff. A key message is that the leaders of FPT do not support the consumption of wildlife anymore.

Say “NO” to the comsumption of protected wildlife

Which future for wildlife do you choose?

A campaign micro-site will feature as a top link on the home page of the FPT Internal news (www.chungta.vn) in June. The microsite includes the list of the most commonly illegally consumed by FPT staff according to the survey done in 2011, information on fines and jail time for violating the laws, list of famous people in the world and in Vietnam

advocating wildlife protection, an online game about protected wildlife species, wallpapers and screensavers of wildlife, and the video featuring FPT famous faces promoting zero wildlife consumption. A key outcome of this project and what makes it more than simply an awareness-raising campaign is that the corporate partners develop internal mechanisms to prevent staff from consuming protected wildlife. FPT Software have agreed to add an article about environment protection to their staff handbook and specifically state that the consumption of protected wildlife is not tolerated by FPT Software. The handbook is revised annually and so we expect this to be added in the second-half of 2012. FPT Software will be the first big company in any Vietnamese corporation in the country to incorporate a wildlife protection clause in their policy. This will be used as a leverage to push for a Corporate wide policy and further activities to then monitor and implement the policy ---------Source: Duong Viet Hong, Communications Officer, Wildlife Conservation Society Vietnam Programme Left photos: Sample posters stick on elevator doors in FPD headquater offices 39


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project UPDATES

Vietnam: “Illegal cross-border wildlife trade is becoming more complex”

S

aid Mr. Dang Quang Niem, ViceHead of the Environmental Police, Ha Tinh Province at the training on law enforcement on tackling wildlife trade for relevant agencies of Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces from 15-19 May 2012 in Vinh city. Ha Tinh is considered the ‘hotspot’ in the illegal wildlife trade network in central Vietnam; in the first six months of 2012, three cases of illegal wildlife trade and transport were detected with seizures of 477.7 kilograms of pangolins, 1,494.7 kilograms of monitor lizards and 250 kilograms of turtles. According to Mr. Niem, each shipment of illegal wildlife can result in 100-200 million dong (5,000 -10,000 USD) in profit. Meanwhile, the WCS findings show that the budget of Ha Tinh Forest Protection Department is mainly spent on forest protection, yet not enough for conservation activities such as handling animals after seizures. The Environmental Police and Economic Police process most confiscations while their skills on identifying species are limited. Therefore, to deal with the more complex and increasing illegal trade in wildlife, law enforcement officers need more practical trainings on species identification and on laws updates.

The training was the first time that 37 officers from various authorities in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces participated in an indepth training on combating wildlife trade. Trainees were from Vu Quang National Park, Ha Tinh Environmental Police, Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provincial Forest Protection Departments, Ha Tinh Customs Department, Ha Tinh Border Army and especially Ha Tinh Market Control Department, an agency never been involved in this type of training before. This indicates determination of authorities in Ha Tinh and Quang Binh provinces in combating against illegal wildlife trade in the area which will in turn help the fight regionally and globally since Central Vietnam is on the of the trans-national route of illegal wildlife trade. The training was co-hosted by Vu Quang National Park , Vietnam CITES Management Authority and WCS under the grant from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and Fauna and Flora International (FFI) ---------Source: Duong Viet Hong, Communications Officer, Wildlife Conservation Society Vietnam Programme

Strengthening community conservation of priority sites within the Ba Be / Na Hang Limestone Forest Complex, northern Vietnam

P

eople Resources and Conservation Foundation (www.prcfoundation. org): “Strengthening community conservation of priority sites within the Ba Be / Na Hang Limestone Forest Complex, northern Vietnam” (Jun 1, 2010-Sep 30, 2012)

shelters provided.

The findings

Ban Lam area (Yen Hoa Commune, Na Hang District) Previous surveys (March – April 2012) located two nests in the Ban Lam area. These nests were being protected by the White-eared Night Heron project’s nest PRCF Vietnam conducted a White-eared Night Heron monitoring visit upstream from protectors. Bad weather for several days had the Na Hang dam on the Gam River, Na Hang since damaged the nesting trees, resulting in destruction and abandonment of two / Lam Binh Districts, Tuyen Quang province and Cho Don District, Bac Kan province from nests. As a result, the nest protection activity at these two nests had to end earlier than 12 – 20 June, 2012. expected. Monitoring is an important part of PRCF Vietnam’s White-eared Night Heron nest protection program. During the heron’s nesting season staff conduct bi-monthly visits to inspect nests and provide technical support to nest protectors.

A third nest had been previously located in May, just a short distance downstream. This nest was also protected under the nest protection program and resulted in three birds successfully fledging.

Chom area (Lang Kha Commune, Lam Binh This monitoring trip aimed to: District) One nest in the Chom area with three • document ecological characteristics of nestlings had previously been discovered in the herons’ habitat early May 2012. Our latest visit to the nest protection site found that all three birds • observe bird behaviour, including chick fledging and how parents teach fledglings had successfully fledged and safely left their nest. how to feed •

obtain feedback from the nest protection team on the entire nest protection process, including the equipment and

Pac Vang area (Con Lon Commune, Na Hang District) 40


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

Strengthening community conservation....(continued) season as observed and recorded by nest protectors’ in their daily diary entries: January – February: nest construction February to March: nesting/brooding Late March: chicks hatch. Mid May (or around two months after hatching): fledged nestlings are able to fly and leave the nest once per night accompanied by parent birds. Late May: fledglings fly from the nest frequently and often without parent birds. End of May: the fully fledged birds leave the nest to feed and live independently. White-eared Night Heron. Photo: Tran Thanh Tu, PRCF One nest with two nestlings - both fully fledged and safely left the nest. Ban O Village (Xuan Lac Commune, Cho Don District) One nest with three nestlings – all fully fledged chicks safely left the nest.

Nest protectors: daily monitoring As reported in previous CEPF updates, the White-eared Night Heron nests have been monitored under PRCF Vietnam’s innovative nest protection scheme. Local people are trained and contracted as nest protectors. They record their direct observations of the heron’s activities, behaviour and ecology. They also provide valuable feedback about the nest protection program itself. Timeline The timeline for the 2012 White-eared Night Heron nesting

4.

conservation zone signage for each nesting location debriefing session for PRCF staff and consultants to document lessons learned and improve future nest protection programs

The 2012 White-eared Night Heron nest protection program officially concluded on 30 May 2012 when the last fully fledged birds left the nest at Ban O Village.

The statistics A total of six nests were located and protected under the nest protection program. Two nests were destroyed by wind (and the eggs lost); 11 chicks successfully fledged from the remaining four nests.

The next phase During the next six weeks, PRCF will organise the following activities with nest protectors, local authorities and Forest Protection Department staff to complete the 2012 Whiteeared Night Heron protection program: 1. 2. 3.

debriefing meetings for each nesting site site-based conservation plans for each nesting location design and installation of White-eared Night Heron

Field survey staff breakfast, Ban O village, Xuan Lac commune, Cho Don District, Bac Kan Province. Left to right: David Welsh (visitor), Tran Thanh Tu (Vietnam National Museum of Nature), Tran Quang Dieu (PRCF field site technical officer). Photo: Tran Thanh Tu, PRCF ----------Source: Brenda Mattick, PRCF Communications officer (VIDA volunteer) with thanks to Michael Dine, PRCF Vietnam chief technical officer and Tran Quang Dieu, PRCF Vietnam field officer, White-eared Night Heron nest protection program. 41


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

W

orld Wide Fund for Nature (www.panda.org/ wwfgreatermekong) “Safeguarding the Saola within the Species’ Priority Landscape in Vietnam” (May 1, 2010-Jun 30, 2012)

Informant network established Three Informant Networks were set up at regions where Saola Hue, Saola Quang Nam, and Bach Ma extension are located. This activity aims to i) provide an insight on the status of poaching, logging, and wildlife trade at these three protected areas (PAs) and their buffer zone communes; ii) identify local and external poachers who hunt at these PAs, and their regular hunting zones and target species. The informants will also process collected information and periodically send the outputs to PA management board and WWF office. As the model was put into operation in quite a short time, periodical reports from these informants have not been due and thus, sent to WWF office yet.

Communication training A two-day training course on communication knowledge and skills was organised on the third week of March 2012 for 16 people in Hue city, Thua Thien Hue Province. The course was to help improve Saola PA staff’s performance on conducting conservational education. It provided the selected PA staff and forest guards with knowledge and skills on how to conduct conservational education activities through the application of professional communication methods at target communities around the PAs, which as a result, would improve the quality of awareness raising practices, and thus add value to the community-based natural resources

Project UPDATES

management efforts. The course focused on fundamental skills which are essential to field workers such as Facilitating an [communication] event, Listening and Questioning, and Presentation (preparing Powerpoint slides, writing on boards and cards). In addition, it also introduced preliminary knowledge on photography, which participants were significantly interested in.

Workshop on biodiversity conservation in Truong Son cordillera WWF cooperated with VACNE (Vietnam Association for Conservation of Nature and Environment) organising the 4th workshop on biodiversity conservation in Truong Son cordillera. This year, the core theme of the workshop is Saola conservation. The workshop, dated April 4 and 5, was participated by 100 representatives as scientists and government senior officers from Laos PDR, national agencies, provinces located within central Annamite region. The workshop covered such a wide range of topic as trade-offs in conservation efforts in the central Annamites, in particular; analysis and assessment of executing conservation policies; and Saola conservation. It was significant that the workshop did not only deliver technical reports and announcements of conservation research but also bring about specific solutions and recommendations so as for the government to stop biodiversity loss, and especially protect species on the edge of extinction such as Saola.

Hue City to provide law enforcement officers with adequate knowledge on legal documents on natural resources and appropriate skills on how to efficiently conduct their tasks Front page of the Saola leaflet in the field (i.e. requirements for forest (WWF) patrol; things to do while conducting a law enforcement patrol; regulations on the cooperation between different forces of forest guards, forest protection departments (FPD), public security, border army, and local authority; and basic knowledge on necessary health care during forest patrols such as popular diseases, accidents, conventional treatment, and first aid). The course was participated by 28 representatives from different stakeholders, including FPD, border army, public security and Saola PAs of Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam Provinces.

Saola leaflet on Saola Leaflet on delivering the message of saving last Saola individuals in Vietnam was delivered to local people living in 36 villages around Saola PAs in the provinces of Thua Thien Hue and Quang Nam -------Source: Nguyen Nhat An, WWF Greater Mekong Programme

Law enforcement training A training course of four days (15-18 May 2012) held in 42


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

W

estfälischer Zoologischer Garten Münster GmbH (www. catbalangur.org) “Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project” (Jan 1, 2010-Dec 31, 2012) The Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project has continued its ranger training program with the completion of an intensive seminar held at the headquarters of Cat Ba National Park. At the request of the rangers as well as the ranger Main Station these last two CEPFfunded workshops will focus on practical law enforcement issues and knowledge. It has become clear through the responses given to our own in-house questionnaire following each of these trainings that these are the topics the rangers feel will help them most in the execution of their daily duties.

Project UPDATES

Development of Police located in Hai Phong. After a thorough discussion of our needs a detailed and specialised course was designed specifically for us. The rangers were very pleased not only with the choice of course material but also the instructors’ teaching style and methods. In a nutshell, course material consisted of skill building in the writing of reports and records relating to the proper handling of administrative violations, criminal procedures in the fields of forest protection and management as well as other related topics.

We are scheduled to carry out one more rangers training before the end of this year. We are hoping we will be able to continue our working relationship with the Centre Scheduling of this particular meeting was a for Training and Development of Police as bit tricky as the Park had many of their own the material they provide and method of ranger training exercises to carry out as well. delivery seems to be just what the doctor No matter, we were finally able to organise ordered! these meetings 12-15 June. Over 30 rangers ---------from Cat Ba National Park participated Source: Rick Passaro, Project Manager, Cat enthusiastically throughout the training. As Ba Langur Conservation Project is our custom, we always invite the rangers from the local Forest Protection Department to participate in these trainings as well but unfortunately they were unable to attend this time around due to prior commitments. It appears we were extremely lucky to discover the Centre for Training and

F

auna & Flora International (www.faunaflora.org) “Promoting CommunityBased Collaborative Management To Strengthen Long-Term Conservation Of Globally Threatened Primates And Trees In Priority Sites Of Northern Vietnam” (Jan 1, 2010-Dec 31, 2012) The project is going into its final six months. Local based species conservation action plans have been completed for three sites, and the last one is currently in process. The provincial approval process proves exceedingly complicated unfortunately. However budget plans for the Action Plans have been developed and fund raising for various of the activities suggested in the Species Conservation Action Plans (SCAPs) is well on the way. The SCAP for the Critically Endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey Rhinopithecus avunculus in Quan Ba district, Ha Giang Province was presented at a workshop in Hanoi to international scientists and representatives from all provinces and protected areas where Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys occur. The meeting was conducted on 19th June 2012 in cooperation with the Vietnamese Association of Parks and Protected Areas.

the CEPF project comes to a close. Son La provincial Television produced a report on the CEPF funded work of the community based patrol groups in Muong La Watershed forest, home to the critically endangered Western Black Crested Gibbon Nomascus concolor. The sighting of a large group of gibbons by the community patrol team and FFI staff in May showed that the current conservation efforts are not entirely in vain. Large groups of gibbons have not been observed in this area for many years. At Muong La, FFI CEPF conservation activities have also been crucial for the local Forest Protection Department on making a decision to start the process of getting Muong La designated as a Protected Area. With the CEPF funding, FFI is still able to maintain one of the most comprehensive primate conservation programmes ever implemented in Vietnam. At present 48 community based patrol rangers are under FFI management at five different sites, partly protected areas and partly watershed protection forests. At all sites where SCAP activities have been implemented, conservation awareness is remarkably improved.

Much remains to be done in the coming months but the achievements of this project Considerable effort has been put in improving are considerable community based patrolling at all sites and ---------with co-funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Source: Ulrike Streicher; Primate Programme Service be implemented at the first site before Manager; Fauna & Flora International 43


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

PROJECT UPDATeS

The next generation of turtle biologists learn tools of the trade in Vietnam

A

sian Turtle Programme (www. asianturtleprogram. org) “Research and Conservation Action for Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in Indo-Burma” (Oct 1, 2009-Mar 31, 2013) In March 2012, the Asian Turtle Program (ATP) in corporation with Cuc Phuong National Park’s Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC), Ninh Binh Province organised their eighth Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Field Skill Training Course. Aimed at young biologists, conservationists and wildlife protection officials the training course was held at Cuc Phuong National Park from

the 17th to 25th of March. This year ten students from national universities and two rangers from two nature reserves of Vietnam participated and a new training module on GIS and GPS was supported by the Institute of Ecology and Biology Resources (IEBR) of Hanoi. Students learned practical field skills for tortoise and freshwater turtle interview surveys, field surveys and conservation projects. Skills such as measuring and mapping, interview methodology and the importance of conservation in research were taught, this year also included a new module on the use of open source GIS software, Quantum GIS, and linking GPS data to the Program to visualize local coordinate’s from field work. This new module was provided by

IEBR. Following interview surveys in the local community students were able to make small presentations on their findings including GIS maps produced using the software. “As always its great to see the students enjoying the training so much, and we’re very happy to have forest rangers from key protected areas involved too” said Hoang Van Ha the Vietnam Program coordinator for the Asian Turtle Program. Students have continued to go on and participate in conservation and research related to the taxa. In 2011 Ly Tri, a student participant from 2008 published his findings of Lesser Indochinese Box Turtle Cuora picturata in the wild, a species for which no known wild populations were previous known.

Endangered Turtle Species benefit from the 2012 student training course

Students practice turtle identification. Photo: ATP

Students learn how to measure turtle morphometrics. Photo: ATP

Following the above training, one student participant went home and started putting his new knowledge into action. Nguyen Thanh Luan from Hue University of Science was conducting a research project in Ba Na Nature Reserve, Da Nang Province, when he heard of an individual in Cam Le district of Da Nang keeping several turtles. Luan was able to locate the household where four endangered Chinese striped-neck turtle Mauremys sinensis and one Malayan box

turtle Cuora amboinensis were being kept in a small four meter square tank. The animals had been given to the owner ‘Thai’ for religious reasons. Once Luan had explained how the Chinese Striped-necked turtles are increasingly rare in Vietnam, with the lowland wetland dependent species severely reduced by intensive hunting and habitat loss, it was agreed that the animals should be transferred to the Turtle Conservation Centre in Cuc Phuong National Park. On the 2nd of May 2012 the TCC received the five turtles. The adult female Chinese striped-neck turtle is of reproductive age and had laid eggs last year, none of which hatched. Its hoped that the animals will settle in their new home and become an important part of the breeding efforts for the species at the centre with the possibility of release back into the wild for these animals or their offspring in the future. “It’s great to see such positive action following the training course, it makes us realise how worthwhile the training is,” said Hoang Van Ha the Vietnam Program coordinator for the Asian Turtle Program -------------Source: Asian Turtle Program

44


PROJECT UPDATeS

The Babbler 42 - July 2012

School programs increase awareness for turtle species only found in the wild in 2010 Programme for the species. Lessons were held from the 18 to 28 February 2012 for 1,745 pupils in 64 classes of three schools in Khanh Hoa and Phu Yen province. All the students were enthusiastic and excited to learn about the forest environment and wildlife close to their villages. A focus of the lessons was the importance of tortoise and freshwater turtle species in the area, especially Cuora picturata. The ATP hopes to engage schools around priority habitat in central Vietnam more frequently, extended the Programme to additional communities to raise awareness among all generations about the need to protect native turtle species. Pupils learning about turtles and threats through the Lucky turtle board game (To Hien Thanh school in Ninh Hoa town, Khanh Hoa province). Photo: ATP

T

he Lesser Indochinese Box turtle Cuora picturata is a Critically Endangered turtle species which remained with the Lesser Indochinese Box turtle Cuora picturata, with no known populations in the wild until 2010, when surveys by the University of Science of Ho Chi inh City confirmed the species in 2010 and 2011 in Phu Yen and Khanh Hoa provinces of central Vietnam. The species appears to be a very localised endemic, found only in good quality mid-elevation forest of the Lang Bian Plateau, central Vietnam. As a priority species for conservation, the Asian Turtle Programe (ATP) has developed a school awareness

The school program was a part of a conservation projects supported by the Critically Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ) to develop a strategy for conservation of important tortoise and freshwater turtle species in Vietnam -------------Source: Asian Turtle Program

Results of 2012 Gurney’s Pitta survey

A

team from the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA), the BirdLife Affiliate in Myanmar, has once again returned from annual field surveys for the Endangered Gurney’s Pitta Pitta gurneyi in Tanintharyi Division Myanmar. The three month survey began on 19 March and ended on 12 June 2012 during the late dry season and early monsoon period, coinciding with the onset of the species’ breeding season. The project team comprised Lay Win, Saw Moses, Kyaw Naing Oo, Tin Htun Aung and Dr. Thiri Dae We Aung, working as two field teams and using a transect-based methodology, deploying playback to illicit responses. The aim of the 2012 survey was to clarify the status of Gurney’s Pitta in southern Myanmar and specifically to determine the northern limits of its range, to resurvey sites where the species was recorded in 2011, to confirm the upper altitude limits for the species and to survey a range of sites to help clarify its precise habitat requirements so a more precise model of the range and population size of the species could be developed. During the survey the team visited ten survey sites, conducting 77 transects and collecting 701 data points. A total 33 Gurney’s Pitta were recorded at seven of the survey sites on 15 transects, comprising data 20 points from 2-89 m above sea level. Unfortunately the team were not able to confirm a new altitude record for the species as this site had been cleared since 2011. The 2012 survey was supported by a grant from the Club 300 of the Swedish Ornithological Society, the BirdLife Partner in Sweden.

Download the full report here ---------Source: BANCA 45


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project UPDATES

Cambodia: The Destruction of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary

C

overing 250,000 ha Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary comprises an extensive areas of Deciduous Dipterocarp, Semievergreen and Riverine Forest habitats in Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri Provinces. It is globally important because it supports populations of five Critically Endangered bird species, one of only a handful of sites on Earth to do so. Particularly notable are its populations of White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni and Giant ibis Thaumatibis gigantea which have recently been the focus of conservation efforts by BirdLife International and People Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF) and research by the University of East Anglia, UK. Although Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary was one of a national system of 23 protected areas declared by the Royal Decree on Protected Areas in 1993, this status has not spared it from the wave of Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) which have been recently granted across Cambodia in general and within its protected areas system in particular. Since January 2011, six ELCs totaling nearly 50,000 ha have been granted to Cambodian, Chinese and Vietnamese companies within the protected area by the Prime Minister of Cambodia. These ELCs will, in BirdLife’s view, ultimately lead to the destruction of pristine riverine forest habitat along the Srepok River, because this eco-tone will become detached from other natural forest habitat within the sanctuary, thereby destroying habitat connectivity. This will seriously compromise the ecological integrity

of the site, leading to a reduced global conservation importance for the protected area. The six companies granted concessions are Makot Pech Agro Industry Development Co. which was awarded 1,950 ha, of which at time of going to press 100 ha were already cleared; Daun Penh Agrico Co Ltd., which was awarded 8,825 ha, of which up to 300 ha has been cleared; Hoang Anh Dong Meas, a Vietnamese company, which was awarded 9,470 ha of which 2,000 ha has been; Jing Zhong Ri Cambodia Co Ltd., a Chinese company, which was awarded 9,224 ha, Hoang Anh Lomphat which awarded 9173 ha, and Rat Sokhorn Incorporation Co Ltd., which was awarded 9,000ha. The size and location of these concessions is shown in the map (right). According to the Royal Decree on Protected Areas, the Ministry of Environment (MoE) is responsible for the management and supervision of the country’s protected areas in cooperation with the other relevant institutions. This is confirmed by the Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resource Management, which gives the MoE authority to enter and inspect protected areas if activities therein are thought to be affecting the environment. The sub-decree on the role of the MoE elaborates on the responsibilities of the ministry to prepare and implement policies and management plans for protected areas, and to propose new areas to be included in the protected areas

Map of Project location, Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary and target villages. Data: PRCF. Map prepared by Mark E Grindley (PRCF)

system. The MoE also has the responsibility to cooperate, consult and advise other ministries on the protection of those areas. A short “prakas”, or declaration, was issued by the MoE in 1994 which prohibited a number of activities within protected areas, but a full law on protected areas was not passed until 2008. The 2008 Protected Areas Law defines the framework of management, conservation and development of protected areas and aims to “ensure the management,

conservation of biodiversity, and sustainable use of natural resources in protected areas.” The law reinforces the MoE’s responsibility to administer the protected areas, including the right to patrol and crack down on illegal activities, inspect license and permits for development and economic activity in protected areas, and conduct awareness raising and education in order to engage the public in the proper management of protected areas. The Protected Areas Law introduced a new system of zoning in order to effectively 46


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Project UPDATES

The Destruction of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary....(continued) manage the conservation and development of protected areas. According to the law, protected areas are to be demarcated into the following four zones: • Core Zone: areas of high conservation value containing threatened and critically endangered species and fragile ecosystems. Access to Core Zones is prohibited except for Nature Conservation and Protection Administration officials and researchers who conduct nature and scientific studies for the purpose of preservation and protection. • Conservation Zone: areas of high conservation value containing natural resources, ecosystems, watershed areas, and natural landscape located adjacent to the core zone. Access to the zone is allowed only with prior consent of the Nature Conservation and Protection Administration. Small-scale community uses of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) to support local people’s livelihood may be allowed under strict control, provided that they do not present serious adverse impacts on biodiversity within the zone. • Sustainable use Zone: areas of high economic values for national economic development and management, and conservation of the protected area itself. • Community Zone: areas reserved for socio-economic development of the local communities and indigenous ethnic minorities.

Two views of riverine forest in Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary on 5 November 2007. Photos: Jonathan C. Eames.

The MoE is responsible for finalizing maps for each protected area. (http://www.opendevelopmentcambodia.net/briefings/ protected-areas/downloaded 3 July 2012) BirdLife is not aware of any zonation plan having been completed approved prior to the granting of ELC licences to the concession holders for Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary (or indeed any other protected area). The Ministry of Environment and Cambodian government actions are in breach of the provisions of the 1993 Decree and the 2008

A back-hoe excavator seized by villagers on 21 February 2012 during violent demonstrations against the forest clearance actions of Jing Zhong Ri in the Srepok corridor (Photo: Anon.)

Protected Area law. Although a moratorium on new ELCs has recently been declared, in the Cambodian context it seems unlikely that any of the ELCs within Lomphat Wildlfie Sanctuary will be revoked. Particularly worrying is the globally important population of White–shouldered ibis found at and around Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary. Cambodia now supports at least 95% of the global population of this species and is therefore a vital last stronghold. A count of 187 birds in October 2011 was the highest population recorded in LWS, and has established the Sanctuary as the second most important site for Whiteshouldered Ibis in the world. Options for saving Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary and this population of White-shouldered Ibis are rapidly running-out ---------Source: Jonathan C Eames and Bou Vorsak

47


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

REVIEWS

Mekong River Basin: Mobilising grass roots engagement and

facilitating high-level dialogue for transboundary water management

T

he Water and Nature Initiate’s (WANI) activities in the Mekong followed a strategy of mobilizing grass-roots engagement of local stakeholders in decision making, while facilitating high-level dialogues. This helped to build networked, multi-stakeholder processes which could begin to bridge local to national and regional decision making in the basin to support improved transboundary basin management. WANI and partners have further tackled challenges in the Mekong River Basin through supporting knowledge-based approaches and emerging dialogue and consensus building between diverse interests and voices. Local collective action and multi-stakeholder approaches combined with support from national governmental approaches have gained traction in the region and are ongoing. National governments continue to be supported and linkages to regional institutions facilitated. The emerging issues identified in the early years of WANI Mekong River Basin continue to be relevant Mobilising grassroots engagement and facilitating high-level dialogue for transboundary water management and to resonate across the region. These results were achieved through focusing on the interlocking themes of knowledge, ecosystem services, negotiation and multi-stakeholder platforms. This built on the already existing work under the larger UNDP Mekong Wetlands Biodiversity Project. IUCN WATER PROGRAMME – DEMONSTRATION CASE STUDY NO.3

Many lessons have been identified from WANI’s work carried out in the Mekong basin. Among these is the understanding that multi-stakeholder participatory processes are needed to mobilise partnerships and relationships that form the basis for building mutual understanding between multiple partners and interests; for example, among Ministries, local government, NGOs and civil society. Additionally, that community-level research can effectively contribute to knowledge and decision making on IWRM, to ensure the priorities and needs of local people are fully represented. Finally, that widening the scope of environmental flows from a scientific concept to a practical water management tool is challenging and therefore there is a need for a step-by-step approach that gains in-country ownership over time. New initiatives continue to build on the work that WANI and partners carried out in the region. These initiatives have focused on national multi-stakeholder dialogues and work by National Working Groups in influencing water policy development. Presently, the Mekong Water Dialogues project, started under the first phase of WANI, continues to focus on influencing water policy development through facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogues in the region. The BRIDGE (Building River Dialogue and Governance) Project, launched in 2011, aims to build water governance capacities through learning, demonstration, leadership, and consensus building. Download the case study report here ---------Source: By Megan Cartin, Rebecca Welling, Ganesh Pangare and Tawatchai Rattanasorn, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

The Conservation Status of Gibbons in Vietnam

T

his conservation status review of gibbons in Vietnam, updates a similar review which was carried out in 2000 by Geissmann et al. (2000). That milestone report drew from available literature, examinations of museum specimens and additional field surveys as a first attempt to document the status of gibbons in Vietnam. One decade later, this current report attempts to assess trends in the populations of each gibbon species in Vietnam and the effectiveness of efforts so far to conserve them. This status review is part of a broader set of initiatives in this region which include action plans in both Laos and Yunnan Province, China, and is thus also able to give a regional context. The authors have collated records of gibbons from all sites in Vietnam known to have gibbons and where information can be assessed to be reliable. With so much more work carried out on gibbons during the past ten years, this report provides a clearer snapshot of the status of gibbons in Vietnam than was possible a decade ago. Read full report here ----------Source: Fauna and Flora International

48


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

REVIEWS

FISH BIOECOLOGY IN RELATION TO SEDIMENTS IN THE MEKONG AND IN TROPICAL RIVERS

Making conservation research more relevant for conservation practitioners

C

onservation scientists and practitioners share many of the same goals. Yet in a majority of cases, the authors argue, research conducted by academic conservation scientists actually makes surprisingly few direct contributions to environmental conservation. The authors illustrate how researchers can increase the utility and impact of their scientific findings for real-world conservation, using examples of pressing environmental challenges. These examples demonstrate some practices and principles that scientists can adopt to better assist conservation practitioners and advance specific conservation outcomes. These include (1) producing time-critical research rapidly enough to affect political outcomes; (2) attacking ‘wicked’ problems that transcend traditional scientific approaches; (3) using multidisciplinary approaches that link science with fields such as economics, sociology, and politics; and (4) communicating in a bolder, more direct manner in the public arena to advance environmental conservation. The authors conclude with a plea for more proactive dialogue between conservation scientists and practitioners when devising research priorities. Read full article here ----------Source: William F. Laurance, Harko Koster, Monique Grooten, Anthony B. Anderson, Pieter A. Zuidema, Steve Zwick, Roderick J. Zagt, Antony J. Lynam, Matthew Linkie, Niels P.R. Anten. Biological Conservation 153 (2012) 164–168

FISH BIOECOLOGY IN RELATION TO SEDIMENTS IN THE MEKONG AND IN TROPICAL RIVERS BARAN Eric, GUERIN Eric

Project “A Climate Resilient Mekong: Maintaining the Flows that Nourish Life” led by the Natural Heritage Institute March 2012

T

he Mekong Basin is experiencing rapid development, including plans for the construction of 88 hydropower projects by 2030, which will have a very substantial impact on the river’s sediment load (sediment trapping by dams). The current report reviews the interactions between sediments and fish in tropical rivers and in the Mekong, and focuses more specifically on a reduction of sediment loads following dam construction.

(roughly categorized as gravel, sand, clay and silt). Most of the sediment load in the Mekong is suspended. The Mekong is a place of exceptional fish biodiversity. Fish biodiversity increases downstream and the 3S system is a hotspot. The Mekong produces about 18% of the world’s freshwater fish yield. Mekong fish resources are essential to food security in the basin. Fish migrations are an essential feature of the Mekong. Sediments influence fishes’ biological functions, particularly respiration, nutrition, reproduction and migration, but also their habitat. Nutrient load is also a dominant factor explaining the overall productivity of tropical river ecosystems (including floodplains, estuaries and coastal areas). Read further details here ---------Source: Baran E. and Guerin E. 2012 Fish bioecology in relation to sediments in the Mekong and in tropical rivers. Report for the Project “A Climate Resilient Mekong: Maintaining the Flows that Nourish Life” led by the Natural Heritage Institute. WorldFish Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the Mekong, the total annual sediment discharge is about 160 million tonnes per year on average, with a wide range of intra-annual as well as inter-annual variability. Sediments in rivers are found in two main forms (suspended and bedded sediments) and they consist of a variety of particle sizes 49


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

personality

Grantee Profile

Commitment for Saola conservation

B

eing born and growing-up in the western part of Nghe An, Dr. Cao Tien Trung has witnessed the loss of biodiversity resources on his native land. Many animals were countless in the past, now only found in history. He can feel the rapidly declining biodiversity under the pressure of market economy. From 1998, he has been penetrated with an idea of ​​preserving animals and the view of both species conservation and sustainable economic development. Dr. Trung promoted the ideas to conserve Saola which was familiar to him from his childhood. The idea of ​​protecting this species for future generations flashed through his mind. Once he said “The Saola is a symbol of Truong Son mountain range. I am safeguarding Saola, which means I am protecting my country.” He always thinks that research should be associated with conservation. He raised many questions: How to study this species? What is current situation of its population? ... Trung has developed several Saola research methodologies such as interviews, satellite plot, dung track survey, and band survey .

Recently, his team has worked with the Copenhagen museum to test the method of and analysis in the blood of terrestrial leeches to identify wildlife. Along with research, Saola conservation activities have been gradually implemented. From 2002, he began testing the application of the community-based conservation model through benefit sharing mechanism, meanwhile forming wildlife protection clubs in Pu Huong Nature Reserve based on the model of the Danish hunters applied in Vietnam. The preservation has brought remarkable effectiveness in Saola conservation here. Concerning Saola conservation, with many advantages and many difficulties and challenges, he is happy when the government approved the National Action of Saola conservation. Moreover, the government institutions and NGOs have been sparing no efforts in the conservation of this animal. Moreover, the local community is increasing their awareness of conservation; and the Saola is increasingly known to be a symbol which needs to be protected. However, he still worried that Saola conservation is still facing many challenges, for example the ongoing animal hunting and trapping which threaten this species. Although there has been hard conservation activities but they are not thorough, the legal system on the Saola conservation has little effect. Day by day, he is trying to find solutions for Saola conservation. He hopes that the idea of building conservation will be participated by the local citizens, and communitybased conservation should be seen as a part of community development work. It will become important and sustainable.

Trung checking a camera trap

Despite the Saola conservation are challenging, Dr. Trung always believes that the Saola will always exist and is a symbol of Truong Son mountain range. The ethnic people here will protect the Saola, as protecting their own sheltering

Lao Wildlife Conservation Association

L

ao Wildlife Conservation Association (Lao WCA) established in 2009 brought together over 30 members from international organisations, government body, academic and private sectors who are interested, motivated and strong spirit in conservation, working on a volunteer basis for civil society. The Lao WCA support the Lao PDR’s strategies on biodiversity conservation and working closely with government partner to get knowledge, better understanding on the dynamics of conservation through scientific research, develop a conservation model to demonstrate and provide advice, alternative options to certain wildlife conservation related. The association members take account of human resource as the backbone for achieving the country’s wildlife and protected area management. Lao wildlife and protected area professionals will be partly trained by working with the association’s members and be then encouraged to be working for the Government of Lao at any levels. Anyone involved with the association will be keeping in well contact in continuing advice as to maintain their professionalism.

Vision Wildlife and wildlife habitats in Lao PDR are managed by Lao people and benefit to Lao society. 50


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

Feedback

Lao Wildlife Conservation Association (continued) Goal Better conservation through increasing a number, network, capacity of conservation professionals for the government.

Mission Assisting and working for the Government of Laos by developing young generations on wildlife and protected area professionals through its pilot site-based conservation.

Objectives 1. to provide wildlife information to public 2. to raise conservation awareness to public 3. to strengthen Lao people, Lao professionals in conservation 4. to promote local livelihood development that links to conservation

Expected Outputs by 2020 (i) provide opportunity for 200 students on field research and practice. (ii) increase a number of Lao wildlife professionals for at least 20 people who have been well trained and research on specific endangered wildlife species. (iii) public will receive up-to-date wildlife conservation practice - wildlife magazine is produced annually and series of wildlife related topics through various media (newspaper, TV, Radio and Journal). (iv) Identify at least five pilot sites for wildlife conservation practice as community/site-based conservation.

Project types and Management There are two project types running under the Lao WCA association as community-based and non-community-based project. The community-based project will be a small project of less than USD 50,000 and possibly managed by local community where local community is set up for managing and operating the project while the association to work with relevant sectors of

the government to provide a technical assistance, trainings and facilities from project from planning to evaluation and reporting. The non-community-based project will be a research project and large projects grant which the association to pay more attention to manage and operation the project with the government partner. However, a community participation is always considered for any processes of the association’ project activities. The association’s policy on the project management will be set.

Key activities • Provide trainings and supervising for Lao professional candidates on wildlife conservation practice. • Conduct wildlife surveys and wildlife monitoring. • Develop wildlife and conservation practice models at its sitebased. • Produce and disseminate conservation educational materials. • Promoting community-based ecotourism. • Enabling conservation agreements • General technical assistance in wildlife issue to civil society To date, the LWCA has received two small grant projects from CEPF entitled “Participatory survey, assessment and conservation of Green peafowl (Pavo muticus) in Dongkhanthung Provincial Protected Area of Champasak, the south-western Lao PDR” (October 2011 - September 2012) and “Conservation initiative of Indochinese Silvered Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus germaini) in Dong Phouvieng National Protected Area of Savannakhet, the central Lao PDR.” (June 2012 - March 2013) ----------Source: Lao Wildlife Conservation Association

WHAT YOU THINK... about The Babbler no.41 (May 2012) “Nice work as usual on Babbler. This is the best conservation press resource in circulation in Asia that I have seen. Really good quality work!” Douglas B. Hendrie (Education for Nature -Vietnam) -----“Thank you for all your hardwork in the production of the Babbler 41. Having mentioned Bontebok National Park and the ‘Kids in Parks’ programme in my profile, I forwarded the link to Bulelwa Msengi, Bontebok’s Park Manager in South Africa. The publication has now been sent to various departments within SANParks (from Cape Town to Pretoria) and I have received very positive feedback not only for my article but the whole publication. I therefore thought it appropriate to pass on the congratulations.” Tracy Brookshaw, Project Manager, Lao Captive Elephant Care & Management Programme, ElefantAsia 51


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

T

homas Paul Kunzel has been working as a biologist/ conservationist/law enforcer in projects targeting community-based sustainable use of natural resources, the protection of natural habitats and its wildlife in tropical countries since 1981. In addition to many years in African countries, he has spent 11 years in Southeast Asia region (Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam).

staff news

S

um Phearun - CEPF Project Officer for Cambodia recently married. Song RongLang on 6th of May, 2012. Phearun has known his wife who is working for USC Technologies Incorporation, Cambodia office, for two years. The wedding party was held in Soung City, Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia. We wish Phearun and his new bride every happiness for the future

He has worked with NGOs, state universities, private consultancy organisations, and governmental institutions. His main interest is in the conservation and investigation of birds and larger mammals populations and the protection of forests in agreement with forests depending human communities. Thomas works for BirdLife Cambodia Programme in Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Forest Project since 1 May 2012, as a Technical Officer

52


The Babbler 42 - July 2012

I

n late August 2010, villagers of Bolikhamxay Province, Laos captured a saola and brought it back to their village. This is the first confirmed record of the species in Laos since two photographs of wild saola were taken in the country by camera traps in 1999 (photo 1).

From the archives

Last chance for the Saola?

The Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office immediately dispatched a technical team, advised by the Lao Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the IUCN Saola Working Group, to examine the saola and release it. Unfortunately, the animal, an adult male weakened by the ordeal of several days in captivity, died shortly after the team reached the remote village. The animal was reportedly found in the village’s sacred forest in remote Xaychamphon District, Bolikhamxay Province (photo 2). 1

After its death, the technical team transported the carcass to Pakxan, the provincial capital , where biologists from WCS and the Lao Government preserved all parts for analysis, future study and reference. This is the first saola specimen to be so completely preserved (photo 3). A statement issued by the Provincial Conservation Unit of Bolikhamxay Province said: “The death of this saola is unfortunate. But at least it confirms an area where it still occurs, and the government will immediately move to strengthen conservation efforts there” ---------Text source: www.sciencedaily.com, 17 September 2010 Photo source: Alex McWilliam, Operations Manager Wildlife Conservation Society, Lao PDR Program

2

3

53


The Babbler 42