Page 1

The Babbler Number 45 (January - March) 2013

Ascension Frigatebirds Fregata aquila over Boatswain Island Photo: Jonathan C. Eames


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

The Babbler Number 45 (January - March) 2013

CONTENTS

Together as one for nature and people

• Comment Vietnam Programme Office Room 401, B1 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 8903 Cambodia Programme Office #9, Street 29 Tonle Bassac, Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia P.O.Box: 2686 Tel/Fax: +855 23 993 631

• Features • Regional News

• IBA News • Rarest of the rare • Project Updates • Reviews • Personality

An assessment of the ‘vulnerability’ of the Proposed Western Siem Pang Protected Forest to climate change, with recommendations for adaptation and monitoring Illegal wildlife trade threatens national security, says WWF report A turning point? Land, housing and natural resources rights in Cambodia in 2012 Establishing a monitoring baseline for threatened large ungulates in eastern Cambodia Status of Siamese Crocodile in Laos New species of flying frog discovered in Vietnam Cambodia: Anlung Prinh Sarus Crane Reserve threatened by shrimp pond development Vietnam: Move to stop hydropower threat to Cat Tien National Park Zhou’s Box Turtle (Cuora zhoui) CEPF-Regional Implementation Team updates Last attempt to save the unique biodiversity of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary Evidence-based Conservation: Lessons from the Lower Mekong Photographic field guide to the birds of Vietnam Joel Lawrence Holzman: wildlife photographer and videographer

• Staff news 2


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Comment

T

his issue of The Babbler is late, in part because during the first quarter of the year I travelled to the British Overseas Territories of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha, and the British Antarctic Territory. The experience was predictably beyond superlatives. What was unexpected and an antidote to what we see across South-East Asia, was that in these territories we now see enlightened environmental polices promoting the recovery of albatross populations devastated by long-lining as a result of fisheries law reform and international agreements, habitat restoration through the active elimination of exotic animal populations from islands and the recovery of whale and seal populations as a result of national law reform and international treaties banning trade. Similar laws exist throughout South-East Asia but corrupt government, weak judiciaries and the presence of only fledging civil society guarantees their failure. Out of 174 nations ranked Cambodia is ranked 157 and Vietnam 123 by Transparency International. On the cover of this issue is the Ascension Frigatebird, endemic to Ascension Island and exterminated from Ascension Island through the predations of introduced cats and rats. In 2012 it was announced that the first pair returned to breed on the mainland from their one remaining outpost on nearby Boatswain Island after an absence of 150 years. This was accomplished by a combined effort involving the governments of Ascension Island and the UK, and the RSPB, the BirdLife partner in the UK: Good government, good policy and strong civil society working together can overcome seemingly insurmountable conservation challenges. In this issue we present the executive summary from a recently published BirdLife report we commissioned as part of a MacArthur Foundation funded project examining the vulnerability of Western Siem Pang to climate change. In his report the author argues convincingly that the best way to respond is to maintain ecological integrity and heterogeneity within landscapes, maintain connectivity between landscapes, monitor change and intensively manage threatened biota. The author goes on to stress that biodiversity conservation initiatives must stay very firmly focused on protection and other essential core management activities within protected areas. Scarce conservation resources must not get diverted, he argues to climate change adaptation strategies, unless these demonstrably strengthen the above objective. Funding sources should acknowledge these objectives and fully support them. If for no other reason, common sense alone suggests that this is a practical and realistic response to the problem. How bizarre then that the Ministry of Environment of Cambodia, charged with both managing the national protected areas system and implementing the government policy response to climate change continues to grant economic land concessions throughout the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Cambodia. With one fatally flawed decision, at a stroke it is eliminating both Cambodia’s biodiversity and reducing the resilience of the country to respond to climate change

Jonathan C. Eames OBE BirdLife International

Photo: Jeremy Holden

The Babbler is the quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina. The Babbler is compiled by Tran Thi Thanh Huong and edited by Jonathan C. Eames. The views expressed are those of contributors and are not necessarily those of BirdLife International.

3


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Feature

An assessment of the ‘vulnerability’ of the Proposed Western Siem Pang Protected Forest to climate change, with recommendations for adaptation and monitoring associated with any temperature increase scenario. In other words, on current knowledge there is no certainty as to whether one temperature increase scenario is more likely to occur than another. Changes in future temperature variations (both intra and inter-annual) have greater uncertainty, and will be affected by precipitation and cloud patterns, aerosol concentrations and land cover changes. A very slight increase in temperature, over the historic period for which records exist to the present, has been detected in mainland Southeast Asia. Climate models have difficulty accurately predicting clouds and precipitation the variation in predicted results from models is much greater than for temperature, yet as with temperature predictions there is no probability weighting in the distribution of inter-model results. In other lobal generalities of predicted words predictions from a model on the future climate change, especially extremes of the inter-model range are on temperature are very robust. In current knowledge just as likely as those contrast predictions of future regional and producing median results. Furthermore local climate change are little more than guesses at present, because of confounding no global climate model has yet accurately uncertainties in predictive climate modelling. predicted the temporal and spatial pattern of rainfall for mainland Southeast Asia, at Global temperature is the most accurately a scale applicable to modelling biological modelled climate variable and the mean correlations with climate. For instance it increase, by the turn of the century, for mainland Southeast Asia, based on prevailing is very likely that climate models will need green house gas emissions scenarios, is likely to have a precipitation prediction accuracy well within 1 mm / day for the dry-season to be in the range of 1.5 to 5ºC. However, months; this is not the case at present. There within this range there is no probability

G

has been no certain detectable change in precipitation to the present within mainland Southeast Asia attributable to climate change; this may be partially due to a poor baseline, but is mostly due to extreme natural inter-annual variation in precipitation patterns. Given that inter-annual variation is a very obvious and likely highly significant natural attribute of regional climate, accurate predictions of biological response will also require accurate modelling of future interannual variation in precipitation. Inter-annual precipitation variation relates to decadal and other scale climate phenomena and interannual precipitation variation appears to not to have been modelled to date; “prediction of decadal variations in climate is in its infancy” (Murphy et al. 2009). Biodiversity is well known to respond to climatic variations and climate is well known as a factor in biological pattern formation. Thus where trends in climate can be detected, associated trends in species and biological communities are being observed. With the exception of CO2 concentrations (which are higher than they have probably been for millions of years), trends in climate variables are so far reasonably within the bounds of historical ranges, although shifts in means are occurring. Future changes in climate are very likely to exceed anything yet experienced in the Holocene (the last c. 10,000 years). Given the relatively

robust generalities of predictions of global and continental scale climate change, it is obvious that much of the Earth’s Biota is vulnerable to climate change, and a significant proportion of species is likely to go extinct (bar intensive conservation management) as climate changes progressively move outside of the realms of ‘normal variation’. However, predicting precise biological responses to climate change are confounded not only by the huge uncertainties in predicting future climate change, but also by multiple uncertainties arising from biological complexity in the manner in which species and ecosystems interact and in the manner each interacts with climate change. The tropics represents a particular conundrum because not only are future climate predictions generally less clear than for certain other parts of the globe, but biological responses to climate change are likely to be less intuitive than at higher latitudes, where a process of latitudinal movement and replacement may dominate biological response. And even if tropical responses could be better understood, tropical species are vastly understudied relative to those in the temperate northern hemisphere, making most species’ responses impossible to predict. In situ response to increasing temperature may dominate the debate as to tropical system response, especially the degree to 4


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

which increasing temperature may (or may not) decrease an organism’s evolutionary fitness. However, precipitation rather than temperature is clearly the more fundamental variable in the current distribution of biodiversity in mainland Southeast Asia. Large changes to dry-season conditions (rather than wet-season ones) could thus result in profound changes in biological patterns. Given current data no sensible predictions on biological response to future climate change in Western Siem Pang can be made; certain species may or may not be sensitive to temperature increases, vegetation patterns may or may not change as a result of rising CO2 concentrations and or changes to precipitation patterns and other variables which affect ecosystem water balance.

Feature Statistical testing is a powerful way to decipher relationships, yet it is also deceptive in blurring complexity. Significant correlations between climate variables and biological phenomena are easy to detect. But statistical significance of a correlation has no bearing on the strength of a correlation; in other words very weak correlations can be detected if enough data are available. Statistical significance implies no more and no less than the detected correlation being much more likely to be a True correlation rather than a False positive (i.e. an artefact of the data). Building future scenarios on the basis of weak correlations is unlikely to result in realistic modelling. Further the search for correlations matching expectations, glosses over complexity and novel relationships. Exceptions to hypothesised response to climate change abound in studies of biodiversity and climate change, yet are rarely considered.

statements are rash and likely to lead to illconceived responses. There is for example a clear danger in promoting a false sense of certainty in certain predictions and also of over simplification of consequences. Change is certain, but the scenario of change is far from certain.

of the organism as well as the dimensions of climate change itself. Characteristics that help a species move will likely be more easily assessed than those that allow a species to adapt in situ.

Vulnerability to climate change is certainly increased by many known ongoing human Although precise responses to climate activities, many of which are currently change cannot in most cases be yet already threatening species with extinction. predicted, it is worthwhile developing Population reduction, habitat shrinkage, guidelines for assessing vulnerability. Wildlife fragmentation and alteration all increase conservation resources are already scarce, the intrinsic likelihood of climate change and given current global problems, not negatively affecting a species. Causal least climate change, these resources seem mechanisms for such reductions within the unlikely to become less scarce. Therefore dry forests include: there cannot be wastage of resources on species that do not require assistance. It • Agricultural expansion is thus the goal of any biodiversity based • Agricultural intensification vulnerability assessment to identify those • Livestock management changes Predictions of both climate change and species that are threatened with extinction • Silviculture expansion potential biological responses in Southeast as a result of climate change. However, • Hydropower development Asia are already being made. But it is rarely it seems highly likely that many species • Infrastructure expansion acknowledged that for every prediction Prediction both of climate change and the will undergo some form of demographic • Mineral extraction there are many hundreds of other potential biological responses do have usefulness. change as a result of climate change. Of • Wildlife harvest scenarios to choose from; in most predictive There is clearly a need to develop models these some proportion will undergo an • Exotic invasive species exercises these alternatives are typically and predictions, because of the huge overall reduction of population, but of never even considered. Furthermore, by implications of climate change, some of these some proportion will not actually be Many of the above may have feedbacks and large there is not at present any reliable which can best be communicated with threatened with extinction. The threat of with climate, especially resultant changes in method to select which of these numerous modelling. Models are needed to help climate change has very different dynamics land-cover. Additionally, many may also be scenarios is the more accurate and most inform civil society and to give scientific from other anthropogenic threats, and thus exacerbated by climate change themselves, likely. It is rare also to find predictive credence to climate change. However there vulnerability assessment cannot rely on the thus creating a feedback loop and even studies that provide some estimate on the are clearly limits to models and predictions, same characteristics of an organism used greater vulnerability of wildlife (e.g. reducing boundaries of the possible range of future and users should thus be made aware to assess other threats. Characteristics that fossil fuel use encourages hydropower scenarios, even though such boundaries of them. At present regional models are might predispose a species to climate change development, sea-level rise results in would be highly informative, much more important, largely in the process of education effects need very careful consideration. Local the need for new agricultural land and so than single scenario predictions. Most and preparing stakeholders, by helping populations when faced with climate change intensification, drought promotes agricultural predictions can therefore be considered an visualisation of the potential magnitudes of will essentially have three options, to stay put intensification in the form of irrigation etc.). unlikely snapshot of a potential future, the changes and basic implications of climate and adapt, to move or to die (or of course take home message being ‘change will occur’. change. This usefulness should however not some combination of these); strategies The pools, trapeang, that are scattered be exploited to the point where predictive followed will depend on the characteristics through the dry forests of Western Siem 5


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Pang illustrate the complexity of interpreting climate change and the confounding changes that are likely as a result of changes in other human activities. The water levels and drying rates of trapeang are significant to many species not least the two species of Critically Endangered dry forest ibis. Climate change may well affect the water characteristics of the trapeang, but the effects are likely to be much more complex than a simple calculation of how much evaporation will increase with a given rise in temperature, and how much precipitation

At least for the coming few decades where the effects of climate change are likely to be relatively small compared with current and historical climate variation, the other ongoing anthropogenic derived threats are likely to have much more serious implications for wildlife than any direct or indirect effects of climate change itself. Photo: Jonathan C. Eames

Feature falls. Cloud patterns and aerosols affect evaporation rates and will probably change to some extent, and in some areas of the world where temperature had been increasing, actual evaporation rates had been falling. Wind speed also has a large effect on evaporative loss suggesting future changes in wind pattern might be more significant than temperature increases. The distribution of precipitation through the year may be much more important than the actual measure of total precipitation to dry-season water levels. Furthermore, it is not even clear that variability in climatic factors is the most significant determinant of water level and drying rate of trapeang. Soil drainage, animal wallowing, animal drinking, plant uptake and shading may account for much water loss (retention). Furthermore soil drainage may be directly linked and highly dependent on large mammal activity. It seems possible that changes in large ungulate (both domestic and wild) activity within the dry forests will have equal and probably more profound effects on trapeang than will climate change. Changes in large ungulate populations and distribution are already known to have occurred and further changes are very likely to occur.

one priority, and must take precedence over all other adaptation strategies.

greatly underestimated monetary, time and skill resources. As such scientific monitoring only makes sense where sufficient resources are already available for basic long-term Maintain connectivity area management. In Western Siem Pang, Connectivity is really only an extension of where current conservation resources are the previous strategy. Connectivity can be minimal, protection of the area uncertain, viewed at various scales, and potentially becomes important if climate change results future funding far from guaranteed and future threats enormous, monitoring, other in the ‘need’ for organisms to ‘move’. than basic ‘situational’ monitoring incidental Connectivity is not a factor likely to be important for the majority of Western Siem to other core activities, is not justified and could become a dangerous distraction. Pang biota in the near-future. However, amelioration of several other threats to Western Siem Pang wildlife would benefit Intensively manage threatened biota from connectivity in various forms with Although this measure is not currently other regional forest areas. needed in the context of climate change in Western Siem Pang, a form of intensive management is already operational for three Monitor change species of Critically Endangered vulture. Given uncertainty in climate change and Eventually climate change may threaten biological responses to it, early warning systems are needed where feasible. Climate some dry forest species to the extent that intensive management is needed, but variables will undoubtedly be extensively there is no way to predict such scenarios at monitored by other sectors of society, present. such that diversion of resources to such monitoring is unjustifiable and dangerous in The consequences of climate change in the current critical situation facing regional wildlife conservation. Monitoring biological mainland Southeast Asia are likely to progressively worsen over coming decades, systems for the effects of climate change but the most serious, catastrophic effects is hampered by poor knowledge of which are probably not likely to occur until components are likely to be most affected. Given the uncertainties, potential adaptation Furthermore change itself is not necessarily the latter half of the century or beyond. strategies for the dry forests to future However, a significant number of threatened an indicator of threat level. However many climate change fall within four categories: species face extinction in the next few species threatened by known factors could decades, and many more face significant usefully be monitored in order to establish Maintain ecological integrity and population reduction. But climate change best management practices, based on is not the cause of this threat; wildlife is heterogeneity scientific principles. Monitoring can take declining due to other prevalent threats, many forms, but in general increasing Ecological integrity and heterogeneity usefulness and resolution of results can only and in many cases tangible solutions underpins the resilience of biodiversity exist to combat these threats. However be achieved by increasing resource input to climate change. Protection of the the available resources to enact these into monitoring methods. Well founded biodiversity resources and global solutions are, all too often, too limited scientifically robust results require often conservation priorities is thus the number 6


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013 to overcome the vested interests driving the threats. One of the worst dangers of climate change would be to divert scarce resources from immediate identifiable problems, to speculative actions for distant uncertainties. Wildlife conservation resources need to remain firmly focused on ‘old fashioned’ wildlife conservation, not least because one of the most clearly identifiable vulnerabilities to future climate change comes from the effects of ongoing anthropogenic threats to biodiversity. Removing current anthropogenic stresses on biological communities will certainly increase their resilience to climate change. In particular because larger populations give more time for development of interventions when a decrease is detected than do smaller ones. Climate change education is warranted, but there is no need for any but a minority of conservation practitioners to attend strategy workshops and the like. Regional protected area management teams do not need to be distracted by climate change initiatives, and by and large protected area management should stay focused on core principals and prevalent threats (at least until actual climate change threats become apparent). There is as yet no good reason to rewrite existing good management plans to incorporate climate change adaptation; as a good management plan should already incorporate the basic adaptation strategies needed, because invariably there are many shared features in strategies maximising resilience to prevalent threats. At the heart of such strategies are; management adaptability, science based decision making and prioritisation and effective situational monitoring. However there is always a need to revisit failing plans and climate change is yet another reminder of why effective in situ conservation is needed now, not at some distant future time.

regional news Globally there is a clearer need than ever before to maintain wildlife habitats and improve connectivity, with an emphasis on key locations, especially mountains. In such key locations there is clear logical reasoning to warrant investing in protecting as much as possible of what natural habitats remain. However within the dry forest landscape of Indochina, key locations for building ‘added resilience’ to climate change are not in any way easily identifiable, while the costs of protection are extreme. Heterogeneity and other factors such as size do however suggest that the dry forest protected area cover in at least Cambodia is good. Further strategic planning along climate change lines is currently unlikely to bring any benefit, and might actually result in more harm than good. Elsewhere within the dry forest region some strategic planning might be warranted. But the problem remains that the ultimate response of the dry forests to future climate change is unknown, potentially making strategic planning futile. None destructive landuses should be encouraged and advocated, especially where land-use stakeholders are engaged in land-use planning. But the resources for such advocacy should not drain the already meagre resources for protection of ‘core’ dry forest sites. With the option of REDD (albeit a mediocre solution), climate change adaptations for biodiversity may be more easily integrated with economic land-use planning ------Source: R. J. Timmins (2012) An assessment of the ‘vulnerability’ of the Proposed Western Siem Pang Protected Forest to climate change, with recommendations for adaptation and monitoring. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. BirdLife International Cambodia Programme.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper : a new wintering site in South West Guangdong, China

O

n 17th of December 2012, during a survey in South West Guangdong in China, searching for potential Spoon-billed Sandpiper wintering sites (survey funded by the Hong Kong Birdwatching Society), the authors were able to locate 4 birds at Fucheng near Leizhou city. The birds had joined a sizeable roost of about 1,500 shorebirds in a dry intertidal fishpond ---------News and photo source: Jonathan Martinez, www.tragopan-asie.com

7


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

2013 Black-faced Spoonbill results of synchronised global census

B

lack-faced Spoonbill (Platalea minor) is a threatened bird species of global concern which mainly inhabits East Asia. At present, habitat destruction and deterioration remain as the biggest threat to the survival of Black-faced Spoonbill. Development projects have been contemplated at many coastal areas, such as in South Korea, Macau, Fujian, Zhejiang and Hainan. Illegal poaching activities are still observed in some locations. For instance, a total of five Blackfaced Spoonbills were found and confiscated in a restaurant in northern Vietnam in December 2010. The Deep Bay area in Hong Kong is under huge pressure for development. As such, the conservation of Black-faced Spoonbill still has a long way to go to its fruition. Since 2003, the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society began to coordinate the global population census of Black-faced Spoonbill. This year’s census was held on 11-13 January 2013 with the participation of over 100 volunteers, recording a total of 2,725 Black-faced Spoonbills, 32 more than last year’s toll of 2,693 birds (a rise by 1.2%), scoring a new population height since the conduct of this census. Read the full news here. More photos of the Spoon-bills at different sites during the census can be accessed here ---------Source: The Hong Kong Bird Watching Society

regional news

2013 Conservation Leadership Programme awards winners announced

T

he Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) has announced this year’s 28 award-winning projects in 22 different countries, worth a total of $470,000.

“For many awardees, this is the first time that they have received funding to manage their own conservation projects so it’s a great boost in their careers. This year, for the first time, we’ll be supporting people in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Cape Verde, Moldova and Samoa to carry out their work,” said Kiragu Mwangi, BirdLife’s CLP Programme Manager. This year’s projects are extremely diverse from Food Resource Evaluation in Chinese Snow Leopards to Saving the Endangered Giant West African Squeaker Frog in Ghana. One of the bird projects focuses on the little-known Tooth-billed Pigeon from Samoa, also known as the ‘little dodo’ due to its resemblance to its famous namesake. However, one thing is the same for all projects. The chance to get access to conservation expertise and receive training. All award-winning team members will become part of the CLP alumni network that supports approximately 3,500 conservation leaders. The network offers an opportunity for alumni to share and learn from each other as they deliver conservation outcomes in often challenging and isolated environments. “Through this programme, we are building the capabilities of future conservation leaders and providing them with knowledge, skills and experience to address the most pressing conservation issues of our time”, said Kiragu. Alumni members also receive access to additional grants, mentoring from CLP staff and training. A representative from each award-winning team will take part in CLP’s two-week Conservation Leadership & Management Training Workshop in June 2013 at a remote ecological research station in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

A representative from each award-winning team will take part in CLP’s two-week Conservation Leadership & Management Training Workshop in the Canadian Rockies. Photo: Martin Fowlie

Eight of the 2013 project teams working on diverse threatened species of birds, plants and sharks will be mentored by BirdLife partners in Argentina, Bolivia, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Nepal, Paraguay and Zimbabwe. The CLP has supported 530 projects since the programme’s inception in 1985. The CLP is a partnership of BirdLife International, Conservation International, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Fauna & Flora International. To view the full list of this year’s winner, please log in here --------Source: Martin Fowlie, www.birdlIfe.org Congratulations to Ty Srun who has received a grant for his project entitled, Conservational Ecology of Giant Ibis in Western Siem Pang, Cambodia. Ed. 8


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

regional news

Illegal wildlife trade threatens national security, says WWF report

D

ecember 12, 2012 - Perceived by organised criminals to be high profit and low risk, the illicit trade in wildlife is worth at least US$ 19 billion per year, making it the fourth largest illegal global trade after narcotics, counterfeiting, and human trafficking, according to a new report commissioned by WWF. Besides driving many endangered species towards extinction, illegal wildlife trade strengthens criminal networks, undermines national security, and poses increasing risks to global health, according to the report, Fighting illicit wildlife trafficking: A consultation with governments, which will be unveiled today at a briefing for United Nations ambassadors in New York. “Wildlife crime has escalated alarmingly in the past decade. It is driven by global crime syndicates, and so we need a concentrated global response,” says Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. “It is communities, often the world’s poorest, that lose the most from this illicit trade, while criminal gangs and corrupt officials profit. Frontline rangers are losing their lives and families that depend on natural resources are losing their livelihoods,” he said.

The involvement of organised crime syndicates and rebel groups in wildlife crimes is increasing, according to interviews with governments and international organizations conducted by global advisory group Dalberg on behalf of WWF.

O

n April 22, 2013, Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s ARREST Program, hosted Vietnam’s first national awards ceremony to honour five excellent individuals for their outstanding contributions to wildlife protection.

Report respondents agree that the absence of credible law enforcement, prosecution, penalties and other deterrents to wildlife trafficking reduces the perceived risks for criminal groups. They also say that consumer demand is exacerbated by the increased accessibility of illegal wildlife products through the internet. “The demand for illegal wildlife products has risen in step with economic growth in consumer countries, and with the ‘easy money’ and high profits to be made from trafficking, organised criminals have seized the opportunity to profit,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.

Report interviewees stressed that illegal wildlife trade is almost always seen by governments as exclusively an environmental problem and is not treated as a transnational crime and justice issue. “Governments need to address wildlife crime Much of the trade in illegal wildlife products as a matter of urgency,” Leape said. “It is not is run by sophisticated criminal networks just a matter of environmental protection, with broad international reach. The but also of national security. It is time to put profits from wildlife trafficking are used to a stop to this profound threat to the rule of purchase weapons, finance civil conflicts and law.” underwrite terrorist-related activities, the report finds. Government officials say that a systematic approach is needed to fight illicit wildlife

Outstanding Service in Wildlife Protection Awards 2013

The Outstanding Service in Wildlife Protection Awards Ceremony, held at the Hilton Hanoi Opera hotel, recognised three law enforcement officers and two journalists, who were selected from more than 60 nominations received during 2012. trafficking including greater resourcing, inter-ministerial cooperation, and the use of modern intelligence-led investigative techniques to identify and prosecute wildlife criminals. Finally, governments and non-governmental organizations have an important role in holding countries publicly accountable for delivering on their international commitments, the report says. The Elephant Trade Information System, executed by TRAFFIC, and the recent WWF Wildlife Crime Scorecard provide examples of reporting initiatives that highlight countries failing to uphold their commitments. Read the full report -----------Source: WWF

A panel of judges with representatives from the U.S. Embassy, ENV, International

Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer award was presented to Mr. Nguyen Van Duong, Deputy Head of Environmental Crime Division of Quang Ninh Police. Photo : ENV

9


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), TRAFFIC, and Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) selected the five award winners: • Mr. Tran Thanh Binh – Head of Lam Dong Forest Protection Department • Mr. Nguyen Van Duong - Deputy Head of Environmental Crime Prevention, Quang Ninh Police • Mr. Hoang Hai Van – Journalist with Thanh Nien Newspaper • Mr. Lam Hieu Nghia – Team Leader of Team Two, Division of Environmental Police, Ho Chi Minh City Police • Mr. Nguyen Duy Tuan – Journalist, VietnamNet Online Newspaper (View their profiles here) “We are very proud to recognise these five individuals today,” said Ms. Vu Thi Quyen, Executive Director and Founder of ENV. “On any given day, the situation in Vietnam can look rather bleak for wildlife, but these award winners are some of our most valuable partners in the movement forward towards a better future for Vietnam’s wildlife. It is important that we show our appreciation for their efforts, for their dedication and commitment to making a difference, and for helping to transform the way we protect our rich natural heritage.” US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms. Claire Pierangelo, the ceremony’s guest of honour, praised the efforts of the award winners. “There is no quick fix for wildlife conservation,” she said. “But by working together, we – government, the international community, civil society, and individuals like today’s award winners – can protect Vietnam’s wildlife and eliminate the demand for trafficked goods.” -------News and photo source: ENV

regional news

South Africa: Sabi Sand Reserve poisoning all rhino horns to counter rhino poaching April 2013 -Toxic infusions are the latest weapon to counter the thriving industry of rhino poaching in the big game areas adjoining South Africa’s Kruger Park.

of rhino poaching was in 2008, when 88 animals were lost. This year more than double that number have been butchered in only the first three months.

Consumers can become very ill

Lorinda Hern of the Rhino Rescue Project, who has codeveloped the ectoparasitacide treatment since 2011, measuring the horns for research purposes while Brent LeoSmith assists.

Consumers of the powdered horn in Asia risk becoming seriously ill from ingesting a so-called “medicinal product” which is now contaminated with a non-lethal chemical package. The 49,500 hectare Sabi Sand Wildtuin has launched the country’s first large-scale operation to toxify the horns of its rhinos, together with an indelible pink dye which exposes the illegal contraband on airport scanners worldwide. Many world famous safari properties on the border of the Kruger National Park are engaged in a costly struggle against relentless rhino poaching. The Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association of property owners this year will spend R6.5m on security operations to intercept and head off the incursions - a budget allocation which has tripled since 2008, when the crisis first came to the fore. These defensive strategies, undertaken with the police and SA National Parks (SANParks), are facing heavily armed and highly motivated gangs. The poachers themselves, the starting point of the criminal traffic inside and around the Kruger Park, receive a mere fraction of the R2-2.5m value of each horn from the syndicates that plan the raids and export the material. Yet the size of their pay-offs in the neighbouring low-income communities is ample enough to keep the poachers safe from being identified.

Poaching statistics

The Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association’s game-changing toxification campaign is as much about sending a message to the illegal trade worldwide as it is about rendering the rhino horns inside its perimeter both worthless and hazardous as traditional medicine. Andrew Parker, 41, CEO of the SSWA, says that compromising the product is the most effective deterrent to the illegal market.

Epicentre of rhino poaching “Sabi Sand is leading this programme because we are located at the epicentre of the problem at the southern end of the Kruger Park, which suffers up to 70% of the rhino killings. Poaching syndicates are here in large numbers and we are vulnerable as a western buffer between them and the Kruger Park.”

2000 employees Up to 2,000 people are employed in the Sabi Sand reserve, mostly local residents. Information about planned antipoaching operations becomes common knowledge very quickly outside the perimeter fences. The intelligence is worth tip-off money. Poacher gangs can then blend into the community and enjoy unquestioned access in and out of the Sabi Sand area along the shared local roads.

Intelligence is a prime asset in the escalating conflict. For this reason the numbers of rhino located in the area are kept confidential, as are the numbers lost to date. The national statistics are harrowing enough to the future of wildlife “We are sending a message through the supply chain that conservation and game tourism. The first spike in the incidence rhino horn from Sabi Sand will endanger the health of anyone 10


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

regional news of course and the information is fed into the communications network shared by the Big Five game lodges and the rest of the Association’s 42 members.

Increased arrests haven’t halted poaching The decision to launch the rhino horn infusions was agreed unanimously by the association’s members in February, says Parker, as the poaching threat became aggressive and adroit enough to match the reserve’s combined ranger-watch. “To date, interventions have focused on bringing additional manpower into the field to counter the problem,” he says. “This has proved effective in terms of arrests but not in stemming the rising body count of rhinos.

A key additive to the Sabi Sand treatments is an indelible pink dye which exposes the presence of smuggled horns on airport scanners worldwide and warns consumers that the ground-up product is hazardous.

“There is a limitless recruiting pool of poachers inside and outside our borders, and they enjoy a tactical advantage against the counter-measures we’ve employed so far. They dictate the time, the place and the scale of their engagements and they hide in plain sight amongst local communities.”

The Sabi Sand properties are making a direct contribution to the national economy of who uses it as a medicine,” says Parker. R500m a year, says Andrew Parker, who “It also raises the stakes against agents has a Masters in Ecology and has worked in smuggling it through airports. When their market dries up we expect the balance of risk the SanParks business development unit in Pretoria. against reward will swing back in favour of our own conservation operations.” “I’ve been in conservation for my entire career,” he says. “Overcoming this present Those operations are essentially defensive, counter-measures based on the surveillance scourge is a fight in which we must prevail. Our strongest available response against of the daily movement of game and its poaching is to cripple the business of illegal natural predators. Poachers infiltrating the rhino horn trading before it sabotages our reserve are spotted and tracked as a matter

own existing businesses.”

inert (painless) keratin by compressed air.

The rewards for the poachers are rising as the costs for conservation agencies are similarly rising. The balance of their value chain must be reversed at its source.

The Rhino Rescue Project’s Lorinda Hern explained to the authoritative conservation magazine Scientific American in 2011 that the toxin is a compound of parasiticides which are used to control ticks on farm animals like horses, cattle and sheep. It is also ox-pecker friendly. While the treatment is for the benefit and improved health of the animals, she said, it is toxic to humans. Symptoms of ingesting the drug cocktail - in powdered rhino horn, for example - would include nausea and vomiting.

Huge security costs “Security costs are increasing. At Sabi Sand alone we are spending R6.5m on security this year which is 50% of our annual budget for the care and maintenance of the game and the infrastructure of roads, and communications. Against that expenditure the poachers are not restricted by any rules and how they respond to our policing them. We encounter incursions of poachers across our boundaries from the south, west and north.” 100 rhinos treated Inserting a toxin into the horns of rhinos is a process which has been used on 100-plus animals in the past 18 months, pioneered by veterinary surgeon Dr Charles van Niekerk at the Rhino and Lion reserve at Kromdraai north-west of Johannesburg. The results have proved to be non-harmful to the rhinos, costeffective, and an immediate and long-lasting solution for private game reserves which are seen as easy targets for poachers. Quick procedure The only possible danger to rhinos having their horns infused is the stress caused by being immobilised. For this reason, says Andrew Parker, the Sabi Sand treatments are performed outside the hottest part of the day, and the up to 2 ton animals are brought round as quickly as possible. The toxin-dye injections are administered into the horn’s

Says Andrew Parker: “We are not aiming to kill the consumers, no matter what we think of them. We want to kill the illegal trade which is preying on our herds. Once the poachers discover that rhino horn from Sabi Sand has no value they will move on. Once the risk/reward balance changes, making incursions against our own very experienced security counter measures will no longer be worth the risk.” The SSWA has considerable support for its latest initiative. Devaluing the rhino horns is only one of three phases of its strategy to protect and conserve the Sabi Sand wildlife in the long term. Winning the war means building up and motivating a highly-skilled staff on the ground; developing an excellent intelligence network; and winning the hearts and minds of surrounding communities by involving them more and more in the business of the tourism industry. To this end the Sabi Sand owners’ association has joined forces with powerful bodies in the public and private sectors. One is SANParks’ 11


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Working For Wildlife programme, led by Professor Guy Preston, a government-driven initiative which aims to provide funding to recruit and employ additional manpower. The private-public partnership has been piloted on the Sabi Sand and it continues to fund the recruitment, training and employment of 25 previously unemployed local youth as field rangers.

regional news

Hidden in plain sight: china’s clandestine tiger trade

By running two forms of deterrent against the lucrative trade the Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association aims to seize the advantage against the poaching cartels in its own area and notify everyone supporting their activities from Mpumalanga to Maputo, from Vietnam to China, that we’ve moved their market’s goalposts.

U

ndercover investigations and a review of available Chinese laws have revealed that while China banned tiger bone trade for medicinal uses in 1993, it has encouraged the growth of the captive-breeding of tigers to supply a quietly expanding legal domestic trade in tiger skins. This Government-authorised trade spurs the poaching of wild tigers and undermines the international ban on tiger trade agreed by the majority of the world through the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The lack of clarity over the use of bone from captivebred tigers to make wine has further stimulated trade and demand. Read the full report here --------Source: Environmental Investigation Agency

A second initiative is titled Game Reserve United. It combines the field reportage from all the game reserves west of Kruger Park from Phalaborwa to White River.

“The media in South Africa and globally maintain a close watch on the shrinking herds of our rhino. The same platform can expose exactly what the poachers are up against from now on. They’ve had an easy Says Parker: “The earlier poachers ride so far, running a vast and brutal, are located, the better we can beat hugely profitable trade under the them to their targets. Equipment noses of government authorities like radar and drones would be most between here and Asia. Now we effective in this but they are too are forcing them to answer to their expensive for our budget. Good old consumers about what they are fashioned intelligence remains our passing off as medicine.” best weapon. --------Source: Andrew Parker, CEO Sabi Sand Wildtuin Association “The reserves are putting money into a pot under the auspices of the Johannesburg. Wildlife and Environment Society of www.wildlifeextra.com South Africa. This will fund reliable intelligence gathering amongst the local communities. Since the stakes are becoming so high in the illegal rhino horn trade informants are now playing both sides in order to cash in. We have to compete against these payoffs in order to identify suspects and the targets of their next raids.”

Vietnam: Rhino and elephant products prohibited

P

rime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has prohibited the import, export and trade of white rhinos, black rhinos and African elephants in Vietnam. The three wild specimens (sic.) are noted as being endangered in the Convention on international Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

purposes such as scientific research and the preservation of biological diversity. The decision regulates that violations will be treated in line with current rules --------Source: Vietnam News Agency

From now, the animals and any products made from them may only be imported for legitimate

12


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

regional news

Vietnam looks to curb web trade in wildlife

A

pril 18, 2013 - Experts stressed the need for increased cooperation between website administrators and law enforcement authorities at the first-ever conference in Vietnam on curbing the illegal trade of wild animals on the internet.

“The outbreak of wildlife trade on the internet will substitute for the traditional trading method, and give rigged trade chances to develop,” the Vietnam Forum of Environmental Journalists (VFEJ) quoted Do Quang Tung, director of the CITES office in Vietnam as saying at the conference.

The conference, held Wednesday in Hanoi, was cohost by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Vietnam office of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Scott Roberton, country director of WCS in Vietnam, said that online wildlife trade has been around in Vietnam for a long time but awareness of it was low. He said this activity was strictly controlled worldwide.

Several other international conservation groups and Vietnamese government agencies and website administrators also attended.

WCS proposed at the conference that content management of the trading websites and forums be enhanced.

A survey undertaken by WCS Vietnam between last July and August showed that 33 sites, including seven forums (agriviet.com, yeuthucung.com and otofun.net), one social network page (Facebook), 14 online trading websites (muaban.com.vn, rongbay.com, vatgia.com) and 11 personal and corporate websites were used to trade wildlife and wildlife products.

Administrators should consider putting regulations on wildlife conservation on their sites and keep themselves informed of wildlife trade developments, the group said.

It also found that a total 108 species, 24% of which are protected under Vietnamese law, 24% protected from international trade under CITES, and another 17.6% including tigers, elephants, elongated tortoises and crocodiles threatened worldwide, were being sold online in the country.

It also said that cooperation for wildlife protection between website administrators and law enforcement authorities should be increased.

Vietnam, which last July objected to the WWF ranking it among the worst 23 African and Asian countries in terms of wildlife protection, given high levels of poaching and trading in ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts, has since taken several steps to deal with the illegal trade in wildlife products, conservationists say According to WCS, the animals and their parts, 67% --------Source: www.thanhniennews.com of which are domestic species, are used as pets and for medicine, food, breeding, decorations and Vietnam didn’t object, but some Vietnamese government officials did. There is a difference! Ed. some personal stuff (sic.).

New website tracks protected areas under attack

J

anuary 16, 2013- The struggle to safeguard wild lands and species doesn’t end when a park or protected area is created. In fact, social scientists and conservationists are increasingly uncovering a global trend whereby even long-established protected areas come under pressure by industrial, governmental, or community interests. This phenomenon, recently dubbed PADDD (which stands for Protected Area Downgrading, Downsizing, and Degazettement), includes protected areas that see their legal status lowered (downgraded), lose a section of their land (downsized), or are abolished entirely (degazetted). Now, a new website from WWF seeks to track PADDD events worldwide. “To better understand PADDD and to inform policy debates, we developed PADDDtracker.org, a new global crowdsourcing tool, to collect, map, and share PADDD data,” WWF social scientist Roopa Krithivasan told mongabay.com, adding that “PADDDtracker.org will allow us to build a truly global dataset that answers some basic questions about national parks and nature reserves: did PADDD occur? Is it currently being debated? [...] Was the decision reversed or offset by protecting other lands? And, with this information,

we can start to answer the most important question of all: What are the consequences of PADDD for biodiversity and the people who depend upon natural resources?” There are a number of reasons why governments decide to downgrade or abolish a protected area. In some cases, governments are reacting to new sensitivities about the role of indigenous people in safeguarding wild lands, i.e. handing over protected area to indigenous or more communal management. But in many cases, the protected area is undercut due to the desires of industry, such as gas, oil, logging, mining and agricultural expansion. “We have seen PADDD linked to everything from political bribes to tse-tse fly abatement, but we can’t say anything definitive on a global level,” Mike Mascia, director of social science at WWF. “In some places, PADDD is linked to industrial scale commodity production and extraction; in other places, local land claims and human settlement play a key role. Some have suggested PADDD as a way to enhance the efficacy of national park systems.” While incidents of PADDD have long gone unrecorded in the public--let 13


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

alone thoroughly studied--the trend has been going on ever since the world’s first formal and public protected areas were established in the late 19th Century. Currently a number of incidents--including opening up Virunga National Park for oil drilling and the logging and agricultural industry shrinking parks in Cambodia--have been in the news. Already, the interactive map at PADDDtracker.org is filled with multi-coloured dots marking both past and present changes to parks. “Working with collaborators around the world, we have identified hundreds of cases of enacted and proposed PADDD,” says Mascia. “We need to take a closer look at these data and, at the same time, , continue to build the global PADDD dataset. At this point, we have made a good start, but there is still a long way to go.” WWF hopes the new interactive site will help raise awareness and dialogue about the practice of downgrading and shrinking the world’s protected areas. To this end, Krithivasan says the site is a “resource for civil society” in order to better debate “the pros and cons of PADDD.” Keeping track of every proposal to downgrade, downsize or abolish a park, however, is a herculean task. For this reason the website also allows users to add information and create new incidents of PADDD. “Anybody, anywhere in the world, can directly contribute their knowledge of PADDD,” encourages Krithivasan. “Just go to www.PADDDtracker.org. It only takes a few clicks to get started.” The site plans to release an official dataset every few years in order to give conservationists, scientists, and decision-makers hard data to go by -----Source: Jeremy Hance. www.mongabay.com

regional news Preliminary survey of the avifauna at Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserves, Dong Nai Province, Vietnam

A

s a result of intense anthropogenic activity over millennia, most of the original vegetation in Vietnam has been greatly reduced.

Estimates of remaining forest range between 15 and 25% (includes mangroves) and most of the extant forest is degraded (MacKinnon 1997, Sterling et al. 2006). Military conflicts during the 1960s and 1970s accelerated deforestation, especially in the southern half of the country, resulting in entire areas being denuded and other large swathes of natural vegetation being reduced to heavily impacted secondary forest (Sterling et al. 2006). Government policy in the years following the war favoured agricultural expansion and led to extensive forest loss. Instead of being allowed to recover, impacted forest was converted to cash crops or cleared to make way for people who were resettled from the north. In southern Vietnam, the c.72,000 ha Cat Tien National Park was established to protect a number of threatened and endangered species (Tordoff et al. 2004), and in 2001 it was recognised as a World Biosphere Reserved Zone (UNESCO World Hertiage Centre, www.whc.unesco.org). Abutting this park, a new reserve, Vinh Cuu Natural and Historical Reserve, Dong Nai province, was officially mandated in December 2003 (Tordoff et al. 2004). Prior to the establishment of this reserve the area had been governed by several independent entities and, as a result, different resource management regimes.

Photo: Vietnamonline.com

several species across broad taxonomic groups (Pilgrim et al. 2007). In July 2010, Vinh Cuu Nature Reserve was renamed Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserves. Herein the authors present preliminary results from avifauna surveys conducted during April 2010 at two sites within Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserves. Read the full shortnote -------Source: Le Manh Hung, Mark B. Robbins, Nathan H. Rice, Erick A. García-Trejo, Steven M. Roels & Sarah A. BodbylRoels. Preliminary survey of the avifauna at Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserves, Dong Nai Province, Vietnam. Forktail 27 (2011)

Since 1997, access to the area has been controlled and there has been considerable recovery of the highly impacted lowland evergreen and lowland semi-evergreen forest. Vinh Cuu and Cat Tien are two of six protected areas within the Dong Nai River Basin Conservation Landscape that have been identified as essential for the continued existence for 14


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

regional news

A turning point? Land, housing and natural resources rights in Cambodia in 2012 encroachment on livelihoods and natural resources remained unaddressed.

W

hereas 2011 had seen a sharp increase in the number of Economic Land Concessions (ELCs) granted by the Royal Government of Cambodia to private companies, in 2012 conflicts became more acute and protests multiplied. The government showed that it had understood the seriousness of the situation by taking initiatives aimed at resolving land disputes, addressing some of the issues related to ELCs and granting thousands of land titles to rural families. However, some of the most pressing concerns about the overall pressure on land, landlessness, land tenure insecurity, lack of law enforcement, power abuses, and

2012 could be a turning point for land and housing rights in Cambodia. Recent government initiatives amounted to recognition that something had gone wrong and that the land crisis had begun to threaten the country’s stability. In the next few years, an increasing percentage of land conflicts should be linked to land grabbing in urban and rural areas alike. Economic Land Concessions now cover a large percentage of Cambodia’s arable land, and the government will not be able to continue granting as many concessions as in the last few years. New ELCs may however be taken from protected areas, islands, or cancelled concessions, but fewer conflicts are likely to be related to these. Conversely, conflicts related to land grabbing are likely to go on, fueled by greed and impunity. Read the full report in English and Khmer -------Source: The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

Cambodia loses half its seasonal wetlands in 10 years

T

ropical grasslands are important for both biodiversity and ecosystem services. However, owing mainly to the ease with which they can be converted to intensive agriculture (and in some anthropogenic landscapes lost to scrub encroachment following abandonment of agricultural activity), they are among the most threatened biomes globally (Bond & Parr 2010). With no substantial area of grassland remaining in Thailand or Vietnam, the floodplain of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake contains the largest remaining seasonally inundated grassland in Southeast Asia (BirdLife International 2003). This floodplain, which consists of inner wet grassland (flooding is longer and deeper) and outer dry grassland (flooding is shorter and shallower), is of major importance for biodiversity and livelihoods. When the grassland is exposed, it is used by 11 globally threatened bird species, including two-thirds of the world’s critically endangered Bengal Floricans (Houbaropsis bengalensis) (Gray et al. 2009), and it supports pastoralism, traditional low-intensity rice cultivation, and fisheries in seasonal pools. When flooded, it is vital to fisheries and contains a high diversity of water snakes (including threatened endemic Enhydris longicauda) and many waterbirds.

10 years. The greatest losses occurred in the north and west and in inner floodplain areas. Wet grassland declined by 64% and dry grassland by 23%, whereas scrub cover increased by 23% to 5413 km2, which accounted for 65% of grassland loss. The least affected area was in the southeast, where 81% of 1995 grassland remained in 2005. However, in this area grassland subsequently declined by 19% in 4 years (from 923 km2 in 2005 to 751 km2 in 2009). Of this loss, 95% was attributable either to dry-season rice cultivation (84%) or associated newly constructed reservoirs (11%). In 2005 dry-season rice covered 50 km2 of former grassland. By 2009 the area of dry-season rice production had increased by 666% to 383 km2. Read the full letter for further details -------Source: Charlotte E. Packman, Thomas N. E. Gray, Nigel J. Collar, Tom D. Evans, Robert N. Van Zalinge, Son Virak, Andrew A. Lovett, and Paul M. Dolman. Rapid Loss of Cambodia’s Grasslands. Conservation Biology Volume 27, No. 2, 2013 This research was supported by two CEPF small grants from BirdLife. Ed.

In 1995 and 1996, grassland covered 3349 km2 (30%) of the floodplain. By 2005 this was reduced to 1817 km2, a net loss of 1532 km2 (46%) of grassland in 15


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Establishing a monitoring baseline for threatened large ungulates in eastern Cambodia

M

onitoring ungulate populations is an essential part of wildlife management with ungulates performing essential ecosystem roles including structuring populations of large carnivores. A number of ungulate species in Southeast Asia are also globally threatened and are therefore important conservation targets in their own right. The authors estimated large ungulate densities in two protected areas, i.e. Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, in eastern Cambodia using distance-based line transect sampling. During the 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 dry seasons, the authors surveyed 110 line transects (randomly distributed across 3,406 km2) for a total of 1,310 km. The author used DISTANCE 6.0 to model detection functions from observations of Banteng Bos javanicus, Wild Pig Sus scrofa and Red Muntjac Muntiacus muntjak generating estimates of group density, cluster size and individual density. Estimated densities 6 SE were 1.1 6 0.2 individual banteng/km2, 1.46 0.4 individual wild pig/km2 and 2.26 0.2 individual Red Muntjac/km2 giving an overall density of approximately 4.7 large ungulates/km2. Although wild pig and Red Muntjac densities were within the range of estimates reported from ecologically similar protected areas in tropical Asia, overall large ungulate density is much lower than the intrinsic carrying capacity of deciduous dipterocarp forest. This appears largely to be due to the scarcity of large deer (i.e. Hog Deer Axis porcinus, Sambar Cervus unicolor and Eld’s deer Cervus eldii) as a result of extensive historic hunting. Current large ungulate densities appear too low to support a viable tiger Panthera tigris population in the long term, and ungulate recovery, driven by strong protected area management, needs to be achieved before tiger populations can be restored. Read the full document -------Source: Thomas N.E. Gray, Channa Phan, Chanrattana Pin & Sovanna Prum. Establishing a monitoring baseline for threatened large ungulates in eastern Cambodia. Wildlife Biology 18: 1-9 (2012)

regional news

Status of the Siamese Crocodile in Laos

T

he Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) is critically endangered and, until a decade ago, few remaining wild populations were known to exist. Described here are the first in-depth surveys for C. siamensis in Laos with new field data on ecology and conservation. Small breeding populations of C. siamensis are confirmed to persist in Laos. During surveys between 2003 and 2008, C. siamensis was recorded in 13 sites of six river systems, where at least 36 individuals (1–11 per site) were documented. In all sites, crocodile densities and recruitment rates were extremely low. Eight nests were recorded—among the first wild nests of C. siamensis to be reported. Perennial, thickly vegetated floodplain lakes are critical dryseason refugia and breeding habitats for C. siamensis in Laos. Opportunistic collection of crocodiles by local communities was observed, and at all sites there is increasing degradation of floodplain lakes for agriculture or economic development. National crocodile records were compiled and indicate that, historically, C. siamensis was widespread in lowland riverine and palustrine

habitats of Laos, with most records from Central and South Laos in the Mekong Plain. These records also suggest that a severe range decline has occurred over the past century, although most wetlands remain unsurveyed for crocodiles. Crocodylus siamensis is probably now extirpated from the Lao Mekong and many other wetlands. Remnant C. siamensis populations in Laos are of global importance. All documented breeding sites, and most confirmed national records, are in rural lands outside the national protected area system, and conservation efforts will require community-based approaches. Read the full document -------Source: Mark R. Bezuijen, Jack H. Cox Jr., John B. Thorbjarnarson, Chanthone Phothitay, Michael Hedemark, and Akchousanh Rasphone. Status of Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) Schneider, 1801 (Reptilia: Crocodylia) in Laos. Journal of Herpetology, Vol. 47, No. 1, 41–65, 2013

New species of flying frog discovered in Vietnam

A

n Australian researcher who discovered a new species of flying frog near Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and named it after her mother said Tuesday it was a rare find so close to such a big city.

Rowley initially thought the tree-dwelling flying frog, so named for the huge webbed feet that allow it to glide or parachute across the forest canopy, was a familiar species when she saw it sitting on a log beside a path.

Helen’s Flying Frog was first discovered by Jodi Rowley, an amphibian expert from Sydney’s Australian Museum, in 2009 during a field trip to the forests fringing the city previously known as Saigon.

It was not until a later trip, when she saw a specimen of the original type of frog in another part of Vietnam, that she realized her creature was something quite different. “The new species has a bright white belly and white 16


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

whites of the eyes, whereas the species that I thought it was - its closest relative - has a lemon yellow belly and yellow whites of the eyes,” Rowley told AFP.

Photo: Jodi Rowley

“There’s also differences in the colour of the webbing, colour of the thighs, and we did look at body type as well so it does seem to be bigger than the

other species.” Molecular analysis confirmed Rowley’s suspicions and she had the honour of naming the new species Rhacophorus helenae or Helen’s Flying Frog after her mother, who had recently been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She said the “big, impressive” species, which is 10 centimetres (four inches) long was a surprising find in the low-lying evergreen forest surrounded by rice paddies on the fringes of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s most populous city. “What’s rare about this discovery in particular is the fact that I found the lone individual less than 90 kilometres from the middle of Ho Chi Minh City, one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia,” said Rowley. Researchers are now working to establish whether Helen’s frog is endangered. Specimens have only been seen in the lowland forests of southern Binh Thuan and Dong Nai Provinces and Rowley said there were real fears for its survival. “We are worried particularly because it is a lowland forest and it’s the same kind of forest (as where) the Javan rhinoceros went extinct in 2011 as well. Habitat loss is a huge issue,” she said. Rowley’s discovery, made with researchers from Ho Chi Minh City’s University of Science, was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Herpetology -------Source: www.thanhniennews.com

regional news

Administrative co-management: The case of special-use forest conservation in Vietnam

S

pecial-use forests (SUFs) are nature protected areas in Vietnam used to conserve nature and its biodiversity. While the Vietnamese government has managed to increase the size and number of SUFs, biodiversity within these areas continues to decline. To improve protection of these SUFs, co-management has been advocated in Vietnam. Successfully implementing co-management requires decentralization of authority and a certain extent of public involvement in management activities. This paper assesses how and to what extent the governance of Vietnam’s SUFs have taken up the challenge of shifting from conventional governmentbased management to co-management. Current practices of (co-) management were investigated in 105 of the 143 SUFs. The results show that the type of co-management varies little between

different categories of SUFs. Nevertheless, a national ‘style’ of Vietnamese co-management could be identified, labelled ‘administrative’ comanagement; fostering interaction between a variety of actors, but final decision-making power on management remaining strongly in the hands of the provincial government. Read the full document -------Source: Nguyen Kim Dung, Simon Bush, Arthur P. J. Mol. Administrative Co-management: The Case of Special-Use Forest Conservation in Vietnam. Environmental Management (2013) 51:616–630. DOI 10.1007/s00267-012-0012-6

Survey of the avifauna at Muong Nhe Nature Reserve, Dien Bien Province, Vietnam

T

he authors documented 198 species within the Muong Nhe Nature Reserve in extreme north-western Vietnam during March–April 2011. The first Vietnam records were confirmed for three warbler species (Phylloscopidae), including the Sakhalin Leaf Warbler P. borealoides, for which there are very few records for South-East Asia. The status and distribution for a number of other species were clarified for this poorly known area of Vietnam. The Muong Nhe Nature Reserve and the

contiguous Phou Dendin NPA in Laos are imperative to the continued presence of the relatively high biodiversity in this region. Not only are these reserves essential to resident species, but they are an important stopover for migrant birds -------Source: Le Manh Hung, Mark B. Robbins, Nathan H. Rice and Erick A. García-Trejo. Survey of the avifauna at Muong Nhe Nature Reserve, Dien Bien province, Vietnam. FORKTAIL 28 (2012): 1–6 17


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

IBA news

A rapid assessment: Western Siem Pang east of the Sekong and north of the O’Khampha Rivers

A

rapid assessment of the northern and eastern sectors of Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area was undertaken between 23 December 2012 and 2 January 2013. The survey area was east of the Sekong River and north of the O’Khampha River. All records of globally threatened birds and mammals recorded are documented in this report, whose purpose is to provide an indication of the relative conservation importance of these sectors in comparison with the better-known western and southern sectors of the site. The principle conservation value of the northern and eastern sectors is providing a

habitat corridor connecting Xe Pian National Protected Area in Laos with Virachey national Park in Cambodia. The northern and eastern sectors of Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area are a lower global bird conservation priority than the western and southern sectors. Future conservation investment by BirdLife should be prioritised in the western and southern sectors, which together support up to 25% of the world population of Whiteshouldered ibis Pseudibis davisoni and Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea. This area is currently under Economic Land Concession.

View north along the Stung Tin Hiang River. Evidence of Gaur and Giant Ibis was found here. Photo: Jonathan Eames

During this survey no White-shouldered ibis were recorded. There are very few trapeangs in the northern and eastern sectors and little or no animal husbandry in these areas and these two factors likely account for the absence of the species. A family party of four Giant Ibis was recorded on several dates along the Stoeng Tin Hiang River, a new locality record and the first in the northern sector. A further two pairs and a singleton, were also recorded along the main channel of the Sekong River. Eight other globally threatened mammal and bird species comprising Gaur Bos gaurus, Sambar Rusa unicolor, Yellowcheeked Crested Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae, Indochinese Silvered Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus germaini, and Green Peafowl Pavo muticus, Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus, Sarus Crane Grus antigone and Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus were all recorded during the survey. A member of the team reported seeing a group of 6-7 Dhole Cuon alpinus near the army camp at UTM 0641500 1583500 in December 2011 or January 2012 (one year previously). No evidence of Whitewinged Duck Asacornis scutulata was found during the survey. This species may now be extirpated from the site. In contrast to previous river trips, Grey-headed Fish Eagle Ichthyophaga ichthyaetus was not recorded along the Sekong River and the species appears to have declined. Chainsaws were heard and a party of 20

BirdLife Ranger Mem Mai sets a camera trap during the trip. Photo: Jonathan C. Eames

fishermen encountered along the Stoeng Tin Hiang River. Chainsaws were heard regularly in the riverine forest along the Sekong River and recent evidence of forest clearance by homesteaders was seen daily. Read the full report here ---------Source: Jonathan C Eames, BirdLife International Cambodia Programme

18


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

IBA news

Cambodia: Anlung Prinh Sarus Crane Reserve threatened by shrimp pond development

O

n 14 March 2013, representatives from BirdLife Cambodia programme and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) visited the Anlung Prinh Sarus Crane Reserve in Kampong Trach District, Kampot Province, Cambodia after attending a village workshop on developing a fiveyear management plan for the site. The working group took this trip after receiving information on the development of a shrimp pond on the border of the reserve. They found a 12 ha shrimp pond, approximately 900 m long had been built bordering the Reserve. The shrimp pond has been developed by a Cambodian who intends to lease it to a Vietnamese investor. The deputy chief of the local conservation group said this shrimp pond would be leased at the rate of US$ 110 per ha per year.

The following recommendations to minimize During a visit by BirdLife and Margaret A the impacts are proposed: Cargill Foundation representatives on 28 1. Undertake a land ownership survey around the protected area as soon as possible, to March, a channel connecting the shrimp identify those plots which, if developed in pond to the Reserve was discovered. This was draining water from the reserve into the any way, have the potential to seriously impact the Reserve. shrimp pond. 2. Develop a strategy in conjunction with neighbouring landowners to buffer the Based on discussions with the local reserve against the impacts of unsustainable community, local conservation group and experts from BirdLife and WWT, it was agreed activities. 3. Local conservation group members in that this development posed a serious Anlung Prinh should stop any attempt by the threat to the integrity of this small (217 ha) shrimp pond owner to obtain water from the protected area since any reduction in water level at this season, when the reserve is used Reserve and strictly monitor the chemicals that may be released from the shrimp pond by Sarus Cranes, could lead to their early in to the Reserve. departure. Subsequent leakage of polluted 4. Undertake an assessment to understand water into the reserve poses another what responsibilities neighbouring land potential threat. owners have to protect water quality of Anlung Pring Sarus Crane Reserve and what possibilities we have to remedy negative impacts of development (including shrimp farms) on the reserve. 5. Continue to monitor water levels at the reserve and instigate water quality monitoring to better understand the impacts of the development on the reserve 6. Work with all local wetland users and stakeholders to protect the reserve and the river basin for the benefit of the people and wildlife.

The Anlung Pring Sarus Crane Reserve now shares the border with a shrimp pond. Photo: Vorsak Bou

On 26 April 2013, Seng Kim Hout WWT CEPF project staff and Deputy Chief from the Department of Wildlife Biodiversity, Forestry Administration visited the site and instructed Local Conservation Group members to block

The channel connecting the Sarus Crane Reserve and shrimp pond (28 March 2013) and the repaired section built on 26 April 2013 (photo below). Photo: Vorsak Bou and Seng Kim Hout

the channel draining water from the Reserve. -------Source: Bou Vorsak, BirdLife Cambodia Programme Manager; Seng Kim Hout Wildlife and Wetlands Trust/Forestry Administration A great shame it took a whole month for action to be taken but better late than never! Ed.

19


vv

The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Vietnam: Move to stop hydropower threat to Cat Tien National Park

A

pril 24, 2013 - Tran Van Tu, chairman of the People’s Council of Dong Nai Province, said on April 23 that the province would place a very determined plea in front of the Politburo, National Assembly and the Prime Minister to stop Dong Nai 6 and 6A Hydropower Plants from coming up in the region. Tu made this statement at a meeting with provincial authorities and officials of the National Assembly, while discussing the Hydropower Projects.

Long Gia Lai Group, is impractical and not yet approved by authorized organs. The investor does not present afforestation measures to make up for the loss of forest cover during construction of the projects. Phan Thi My Thanh, deputy chairwoman of the People’s Committee of Dong Nai, said that Hydropower Plants will create a negative impact in the upper reaches of Dong Nai River, affecting the lives of residents living in low lying areas, including in Ho Chi Minh City and Binh Duong Province.

Vo Van Chanh, deputy director of the provincial Department of Natural Resources At the meeting, representatives from and Environment, said that economic benefits the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that the environment impact from the two projects is inconsequential compared to unaccountable damage report given by the project investor, Duc

A hydropower plant under construction along the Dong Nai River. Photo: Vietnam News Agency

caused to 20 million lives, the environment and the ecosystem. According to the investor, Dong Nai 6 and 6A Plants will generate one billion kWh of power and no locals will have to be removed or resettled. Le Quang Huy, deputy chairman of the National Assembly Committee for Science, Technology and Environment, proposed that the National Assembly ask the investor to clarify further on the environment impact to the Cat Tien National Park. Tran Van Tu, chairman of the People’s Council, said that the legal angles of the two projects need to be considered carefully. He said that although the Prime Minister has approved development of Hydropower Plants for the period 2011-2020, which covers Dong Nai 6 and 6A Plants, several central and central highland provinces have asked for adjustments to these plans due to huge negative impact on environment as compared to economic gains. The two projects also do not take into account the biodiversity law, water resource law, cultural heritage law and several other regulations set by the Government --------Source: www.vietmaz.com

IBA news Vietnam: Deputy Director of Yok Don National Park reassigned

O

n 5 November 2012, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development issued a decision which moves Ho Van Cau, the deputy director of Yok Don National Park to take a specialist job in the office of Vietnam Administration of Forestry. In the personnel report submitted to the Ministry on 3 November by the national park director, Cau was accused of having contacts with illegal loggers, being inefficient in work and repressing staff. See the original news in Vietnamese --------Source: Dong Nguyen, www.tinmoi.vn

20


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

IBA news

Vietnam: Tam Dao National Park director fired for trying to evict bear sanctuary

A

pril 30, 2013 - The director of a national park has been sacked for attempting to evict a bear sanctuary on spurious grounds allegedly cooked up in a high-profile corruption-ridden land dispute.

conclusion by the Ministry of Defence, which said that the expansion of the centre, currently home to 104 Asiatic black bears rescued from Vietnamese bear farms and the illegal wildlife trade, would get in the way of national defence work in the area.

Do Dinh Tien, director of the Tam Dao National Park, will be replaced by his deputy, Ha Cong Khai, starting May 1, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said in a statement.

Faced with the prospect of closing the centre, Animals Asia had mounted a public relations campaign against the eviction, enlisting widespread support from international politicians to British celebrities.

According to the ministry, since 2011, Tien has repeatedly obstructed the operations of the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre based in the park located in Vinh Phuc Province, about 42 miles northwest of Hanoi.

A number of conservation groups, foreign embassies in Vietnam, and US politicians sent a letter to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, urging him to not close the sanctuary.

Tien aimed to save part of the centre’s land for an eco-tourism project planned by a company of which one of his “relatives” is a 10% shareholder, the ministry said without elaborating. Animals Asia, the Hong Kong-based animal welfare group which runs the US$2 million centre, had accused Tien of aggressively lobbying the government to evict the sanctuary to give way for a hotel project planned by the Truong Giang Company, of which his daughter is listed as a founding member. Last October, the agriculture ministry told Animals Asia that the sanctuary should close down and move elsewhere if it can. The request was made following a July

The organisation said evicting the centre would spell doom for the mental and physical well-being of the bears, leave over 70 Vietnamese jobless and compromise the nation’s commitment to wildlife conservation. With the story spreading throughout local media outlets, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung rejected the plan to close the centre earlier this year, saying it could stay and pursue its plans to expand. PM Dung also asked that the agriculture ministry to clarify the responsibilities of the park’s director in implementing regulations on the bear sanctuary. Any violations found must be dealt with seriously in accordance with the law, it said.

The Tam Dao Bear Rescue Centre run by Animals Asia. Photo: VietnamNet

Activists see it as a welcome, rare victory for conservation in the country, but are not confident this heralds an era where conservation efforts would prevail over vested interests. Animals Asia set up the Tam Dao bear rescue centre in 2005 after the agriculture ministry issued a directive to phase out bear farming, a vocation notorious for the extraction of bear bile for traditional medicine, which is mostly sold to South Korean and Chinese tourists. Those who sell bear bile extract it regularly in what are agonising procedures for the animals. Usually, between 100-120ml of bile

is withdrawn at a time and sold for between $3 and $6 per millilitre. Around 3,500 bears are still being farmed in Vietnam, concentrated mostly in the north. Vietnam, China and South Korea are the only countries in the world where bear farming is legal. Conservationists have praised the sanctuary as one of the most successful wildlife conservation programs in Vietnam. -------Source: www.thanhniennews.com Congratulations to all who campaigned on this issue. Ed. 21


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Rarest of the rare

Zhou’s Box Turtle Cuora zhoui

Z

hou’s Box Turtle Cuora zhoui, one member of the chelonian genus Cuora, has recently been highlighted as the most threatened of all the Cuora’s at the first Cuora workshop held in Orlando, Florida, USA during the Turtle Survival Alliance Symposium in August 2010 and in the 2nd Cuora workshop in Gangkou, Guangdong, China in May 2011.

Head portrait of an adult captive bred female. Juvenile specimen

An adult wild caught female

During the 1990’s less than 150 individuals of the species were observed in southern Chinese markets and since 2000 none have been seen in the markets and only 20 offered in the trade. Many of these specimens ended up in Chinese, European and US collections but most animals have already died. While in the early 2000’s the captive population for the species was estimated to around 100 individuals, this has fallen to now less than 50 founders and 60 captive hatched specimens (mostly from two founder pairs). With the believed wild and captive populations so low the species is certainly one of the most endangered turtles in the world. Due to this, the species now ranks 5th place in the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group 2011 List of the 25 most endangered chelonian species on this planet (Turtle Conservation Coalition 2011). This species resembles the last chelonian species that has not been found in the wild yet. A small population of the species is believed to remain in northern Vietnam and perhaps adjacent Southern China -------Source: Torsten Blanck/IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group and Tim McCormack/Asian Turtle Programme, Cleveland Zoological Society Photos: Torsten Blanck

Juveniles hatched at the Internationales Zentrum für Schildkrötenschutz (International Centre for Turtle protection) in the Allwetter Zoo Münster/ Germany

22


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Project updates PROJECT UPDATeS

CEPF Grantees Workshop: sharing five years of results and lessons learned region’s protected area system, integrated biodiversity-friendly management practices into production landscapes in the fisheries, forestry and agriculture sectors, and delivered tangible livelihood benefits to more than 100 rural communities.

Participants at the workshop. Photo: BirdLife International

B

irdLife International organised a grantee workshop as part of the first phase of CEPF’s investment in the Indo-Burma Hotspot. The event was held from 25-27 March 2013 at the NagaWorld Casino, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and attended by more than 110 representatives from civil society organizations, government agencies and donors. BirdLife and CEPF have been making grants to civil society in the Indo-Burma Hotspot since July 2008, and 120 grants to 53 organizations to implement conservation projects in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam, have now been made. Over the five-year period, CEPF invested a total of US $9.8 million in the hotspot. Collectively, these grants helped strengthen the management of conservation areas covering more than 2.1 million ha, established new protected areas to fill key gaps in the

The workshop provided a venue for CEPF grantees to exchange results and lessons learned, examining what worked and what did not turn out as expected. Organisers also solicited feedback from grantees about how CEPF and other conservation funders can improve their support to civil society organizations in terms of grantmaking operations, civil society capacity building, delivery of results on the ground, and facilitating networking at national and regional levels. Throughout the workshop, participants shared their ideas and experiences in group discussion sessions examining issues of common concern, such as tackling the wildlife trade, responding to hydropower development, leveraging sustainable funding and linking livelihoods to conservation. Hoang Thanh Binh, policy advocacy program coordinator with Green Innovation and Development Centre, stated, “The workshop allowed me to connect with other NGO representatives to discuss our experiences. Although the projects varied in scope, the project implementation and corresponding difficulties were similar, such as how to find additional financial support. Of particular

significance is the idea to connect with these partners to cooperate together on a proposal for a big grant to catalyse funding.” The workshop also showcased the results of the CEPF investment in Indo-Burma. With regard to species conservation, CEPF has focused resources at a selection of the most highly threatened species in the region, tested new models such as payments for nest protection, and helped secure core populations of 20 species from overexploitation and illegal trade. With regard to site conservation, CEPF has focused support on 12 key biodiversity areas within two priority corridors, helping to test and pilot conservation models that deliver tangible benefits to local people as well as biodiversity conservation, such as community co-management of fisheries. At the policy and planning level, CEPF has helped mainstream biodiversity into other sectors, particularly energy. The CEPF investment was well timed to respond to the emerging issue of hydropower development on the mainstream of the Mekong River; plans have been analysed, results widely disseminated, and alternative development scenarios promoted with decision makers in the government and private sector. Overall, the take-home message was that, while threats to biodiversity in the Indo-Burma Hotspot have intensified over the last five years, the effectiveness of the conservation response

T

he Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (www.cepf.net) is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, 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 US $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.

23


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

PROJECT UPDATeS

has improved. A growing number of conservation approaches have been tested, refined and shown to be effective, albeit often at small scales. The challenge going forward will be to take these approaches to scale, mainstream them into policy, and expand the strong foundation of capacity and partnerships among civil society organizations that has emerged over the last five years.

Up to US $10.4 million has been committed for the second phase of CEPF investment in this region, which will be guided by the updated 21 investment priorities grouped into six strategic directions. Calls for new proposals will open, it is hoped, in the middle of 2013 --------Tran Thanh Huong, Administration officer, BirdLife CEPF-RIT Mandy Devine, Communications Coordinator, CEPF/Conservation International

CEPF will hopefully soon embark upon a second five-year investment phase in the IndoBurma Hotspot, covering the period 2013-2018. A discussion on the strategy for this second investment period and its timeline was rated as one of the most informative sessions of the workshop.

List of nine new BirdLife CEPF small grants in Indo-Burma Grantee name

National (N)/ International (I)

Action for development (AFD)

N

Chamroen Chiet Khmer (CCK)

N

People Resources and Conservation Foundation (PRCF)

I

Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP)

N

Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program Center for Environmental and Rural Development (CERD), Vinh University Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES)"

N

Fauna & Flora International (FFI)-Vietnam"

I

International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Vietnam Country Programme (IUCN Vietnam)

I

I

N

Project title Integrating Bengal Florican Conservation in Community Forest Management Enabling continued protection of the Boeung Prek Lapouv and Anlung Pring Sarus Crane Reserves Strengthening White-shouldered Ibis conservation initiatives and bolstering local stakeholder-led initiatives in the landscape of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia Assessing the Status and Distribution of Eld’s Deer in Western Siem Pang Dry Dipterocarp Forest, Stung Treng Province Finding a place for Bengal Florican in an agricultural landscape Pilot different survey methods to identify Saola population in Pu Mat National Park of Nghe An Province Confirming the existence of Zhou’s Box Turtle in Northern Vietnam and developing a conservation plan for the species Securing long-term sustainable financing of Community Conservation Teams for the protection of Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys in Khau Ca, Northern Vietnam Baseline population assessment of the Critically Endangered Cat Ba langur (Trachypithecus poliocephalus poliocephalus) and initiation of a long-term research agenda

Project location

Strategic Direction

Start date

End date

Granted amount

KH

3

1 Jan 2013

1 Oct 2013

19,990.00

KH

1

1 Apr 2013 31 Oct 2013 20,000.00

KH

2

1 Mar 2013 31 Oct 2013 15,591.70

KH

2

1 Mar 2013 31 Oct 2013 19,995.00

KH

3

1 Feb 2013 31 Oct 2013 19,164.80

VN

1

15 Feb 2013 30 Oct 2013 18,483.00

VN

1

1 Mar 2013 30 Oct 2013 18,509.00

VN

1

1 Apr 2013

VN

1

1 Apr 2013

1 Oct 2013

1 Oct 2013

19,994.24

19,991.96 24


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

In the first quarter of 2013, eight large grant projects were completed 1. Centre for People and Nature Reconciliation: Raising Concerns – Reducing Impacts: Providing Inputs to Local Development Policies Related to Biodiversity and Natural Resources through Engaging the Media. Final report 2. Centre for Water Resources Conservation and Development: Strengthening Communities’ Resilience to the Potential Risks from Proposed Dams on the Mekong Mainstream. Final report 3. Cleveland Zoological Society: Research and Conservation Action for Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in Indo-Burma. Final report (to be available soon) 4. International Union for Conservation of Nature: Freshwater Biodiversity Assessments in the IndoBurma Biodiversity Hotspot: Fishes, Molluscs, Odonates and Plants. Final report 5. Missouri Botanical Garden: Assessment of the Status and Distribution of Globally Threatened Plant Species in Indo-Burma. Final report (to be available soon) 6. Wildlife Conservation Society: Conservation of Tiger and Prey Populations by Improved Monitoring of Tiger and Prey Population to Assess the Success of Management Interventions in the Nam Et-Phou Louey National Protected Area, Lao PDR. Final report (to be available soon) 7. Wildlife Conservation Society: Building Awareness and Capacity to Reduce the Illegal Cross-Border Trade of Wildlife From Vietnam to China. Final report 8. World Wide Fund for Nature: Safeguarding the Saola within the Species’ Priority Landscape in Vietnam. Final report For the full list of funded projects and final completion reports, please log in here.

PROJECT UPDATeS

CEPF exchange visit to Stung Treng Ramsar site and Central Mekong

P

rior the CEPF Grantees Workshop in Phnom Penh (25-27 March 2013), a special site visit to some CEPF funded projects along the mainstream of the Mekong River between the Khone falls and Kratie town in Cambodia was organised. Representatives from two CEPF donors (the Ministry of Environment of Japan and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation) joined staff from the CEPF Secretariat, the Regional Implementation Team and six CEPF grantees (WWF Cambodia, the Cambodian Rural Development Team (CRDT), Community Economic Development (CED), Conservation International, WorldFish Center and International Rivers) for a five day trip (18-22 March 2013). The main purpose of this visit was to provide an opportunity for all CEPF grantees working along Mekong River and CEPF donor representatives to visualise the project achievements, lessons and emerging challenges. After hearing a presentation from International Rivers about their work to coordinate a civil society alliance to raise concerns about the social and environmental implications of hydropower dam development on the Mekong, the participants visited the Khone Falls area along the LaoCambodia border, where one of the mainstream dams (Don Sahong) is proposed. This dam would be sited in the only river channel that allows upstream migration of fishes during the dry season. The participants could clearly imagine what kind of threats local communities and biodiversity will face if the proposed dam is built. In the following days, the group met and discussed with several local communities in the Stung Treng Ramsar Site and the Mekong Central Section about their efforts to more sustainably manage the Mekong River’s aquatic resources and introduce alternative income-generating activities, supported by parallel CEPF grants to CRDT and WorldFish Center. Community Based Organisation (CBO) establishment and strengthening was the key topic for sharing and

discussion between the local residents and the group. Community fisheries committees in the Stung Treng Ramsar site expressed their long term commitment to protect the aquatic resources in three fish sanctuaries they have established under the projects, while local communities in the Central Section shared lessons on how they succeeded in requesting the government to recognise 1,749 hectares of O’ Krosang village as a community forestry. All these CBO have concerns about the sustainability of their organisations and requested further assistance after the CEPF funded projects ended. The group also took a trip to see the Asian Giant Softshell Turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) and critically endangered bird nest protection models being piloted by Conservation International and WWF, respectively. At least 300 Asian Giant Softshell Turtle hatchlings from eggs protected by local fisher families were released into the Mekong River by the group. This was a real feel-good moment, as the little turtles that would likely otherwise have been predated by people, dogs or wild animals were released safely into their natural habitat. The field trip ended with a shared reflections session. A significant lesson learned was that strong partnerships among local and international non-governmental organisations working at the same location is essential to avoid overlapping efforts, produce wider achievements and make best use of complementary strengths. This partnership model should be introduced and spread to other priority sites of CEPF in the next call for proposals --------Source: Bou Vorsak, BirdLife Cambodia Programme Manager

25


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Project UPDATES

Pangolins in Peril -Steps towards conserving Pangolins in Cambodia

burrows, and emerge in the evening to forage for ants and termites, using an extraordinarily long, sticky tongue. Pangolins used to be common throughout South-East Asia, but over the last several decades they have been hunted heavily and are now found only in very low numbers. The single greatest threat to the survival of Asian pangolins in the wild is illegal hunting for trade, mainly to supply demand in China for meat and scales used for tonics and traditional medicines. Pangolins for the Chinese markets were originally sourced within China and nearby areas. However, with depletion of these sources, these animals are now imported from all over Southeast Asia and even Africa. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of pangolins have been illicitly traded across international borders each year. This is leaving populations in the wild locally extirpated or severely depleted, and the species on the brink of extinction. Four species of pangolins are found in Asia, however, just one species, the Sunda pangolin, Manis javanica, is found in Cambodia. Here it used to be common in all forested areas, but is now reported to be very rare at most sites, as it is being hunted to supply the international illegal market in pangolins. The price for a live pangolin is high (often more than $100), and is often an irresistible incentive for poor hunters and farmers in spite of the international and national ban on hunting of this species.

Some of the confiscated pangolins have suffered severe injuries from being trapped in snares. Amputation of a hind leg and intense care by the vet and keepers saved the life of this pangolin, however it will not be suitable for release but will be looked after at the facility where it will function as ambassador for the plight of the pangolins.© Conor Wall.

C

onservation International (www.conservation.org): “Reducing Exploitation of Trade-Threatened Mammals in their Cambodian Strongholds” (Jul 2010 - Jun 2013)

Pangolins, or “scaly ant-eaters,” are covered with protective, overlapping scales, which are made from the same proteins that form human hair and fingernails. Pangolins can quickly roll up into a tight ball when threatened. Pangolins are nocturnal. They sleep during the day in hollow trees or

The Sunda pangolin is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and in CITES Appendix II, with a ‘zero’ trade quota, which bans all commercial trade in specimens removed from the wild. In Cambodia, the species is currently protected as a ‘Rare’ species under the Forestry Law, 2002 (MAFF Prakas 20 on Classification and List of Wildlife Species from 2007). 26


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

individual enclosures, all with an indoor and outdoor section. Keepers are in place to look after pangolins kept here. Keepers and vet have visited the ACCB, and staff from both PTWRC and ACCB have together visited the Small Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program (SCPC) in Vietnam, who also have great expertise and experience in caring for confiscated and injured pangolins. During the visits, staff from all centres exchanged experience and ideas and established good relationships for future collaboration. The rehabilitation centres are a great step on Opening ceremony where monks blessed the facility. the way to ensure that confiscated pangolins can Photo: Conservation International. be nursed back to heath prior to release back to Pangolins that are confiscated from hunters tend the wild, which will increase their chances for survival. to be in very poor condition due to trapping techniques and transportation methods. Sometimes they are kept for days in plastic bags Information boards are in place at the PTWRC facility in both Khmer and English, will help without food or water, hidden in small spaces. educate visitors on pangolins and how we can all Initially, when rangers confiscated pangolins, they were released straight away no matter their contribute to their survival. These facilities give condition, but post-release tracking showed that all of us involved in pangolin conservation hope that this species will inspire the public to have released injured pangolins often didn’t survive. This led Conservation International to assist with greater respect and care for them. the development of two specialized pangolin Conservation International has been working on rehabilitation centres: the improvement protecting pangolins in Cambodia since 2006. of rehabilitation facilities for pangolins With partners we have undertaken surveys for at the Angkor Centre for Conservation of pangolins across the country to assess their Biodiversity (ACCB) near Siem Reap, which status, carried out awareness campaigns for have good knowledge and experience on communities in the Cardamom Mountains, caring for pangolins, and the development of educated and trained rangers, established and a new pangolin rehabilitation centre at the improved rescue facilities and soft-release sites government-run Phnom Tamau Wildlife Rescue Centre (PTWRC) near Phnom Penh. December --------2012 saw the official opening of the PTWRC facility. The centre houses pangolins confiscated Source: Sokrith Heng, Project Officer, Conservation International from illegal traffickers. The facility has four

Project UPDATES

S

am Veasna Centre for Wildlife Conservation (SVC; www. samveasna.org): StakeholderBased Conservation of Three Important Bird Areas in Cambodia (Nov 2012 – Sept 2013) CEPF is currently funding ongoing nest protection work in the northern plains of Cambodia for a number of large, Endangered bird species. These include Giant Ibis and White-shouldered Ibis, Sarus Crane, Masked Finfoot, Lesser and Greater Adjutant. The Sam Veasna Centre for Conservation based in Siem Reap is working with BirdLife Cambodia Programme at Western Siem Pang and the Wildlife Conservation Society in the Preah Vihear Protected Forest and Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary. At the end of February, well into the dry season, the primary nesting species are white-shouldered ibis and the adjutants. Funds have been provided for nest locating, regular observation of nest activities and meetings with local communities in an effort to educate people to conserve these iconic species. In addition local field staff have been trained to place circumferential metal baffles on nesting trees. A programme is underway to use randomly placed baffles on half of the nesting trees. A post-breeding evaluation of nesting success will be

done to determine whether the baffles increase nest success rates. If this proves to be of value, it will be a low cost way of assisting the birds. During December 2012 - February 2013 period, local teams at Western Siem Pang discovered fifteen whiteshouldered ibis nests. The four local monitors visit each nest two to three times per week. There are 22 chicks of which 10 birds already fledged. Training for baffle placement took place in February, which was late for the early nesters. Thus, baffles were set up on only four trees, given some early fledging and three other nest failed. Hopefully, this training can be applied to successive seasons to build up an adequate sample size for evaluation of this protection method. Community outreach involved meetings with over 400 people from six local villages in Siem Pang area. Local teams in the Kulen Promtep and Preah Vihear used the funds to seek out active nests. Once found, two persons stay in the vicinity of the nesting species, to prevent logging near the nest and to keep disturbances to a minimum. By January 1, 2013, 29 nests of lesser adjutants with 55 chicks fledged have been found in Preah Vihear and 63 nests with 123 chicks, 118 fledged found in Kulen Promtep. 27


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

T

he Lao Wildlife Conservation Association: Conservation initiative of the Indochinese Silvered Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus germaini) in Dong Phouvieng National Protected Area, Savannakhet Province, Laos. (May 2012- April 2013)

PROJECT UPDATeS

close to Ban Vongsikeo village, Savannakhet Province. The species is now extremely rare in the country and requires conservation attention.

The Lao Wildlife Conservation Association (Lao WCA) is a young Lao local organisation, founded in earlier 2010, aiming to take The Indochinese Silvered Leaf Monkey Trachypithecus germaini, is now probably the leadership and encourage Lao citizens to save wildlife and wildlands all Laos through rarest and most threatened monkey in Laos, and an Endangered species according to IUCN science-based participatory conservation. With financial support from the Critical Red List 2010. The species occurs in lowland Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Lao WCA semi-evergreen of the southern part of the has initiated the conservation activities country. The only confirmed recent records by building better understanding on its of species are from one site, i.e., Dong population status, emerging threats to Phouvieng National Protected Area (NPA) the monkey, and suitable conservation with reference to Dong Sakee Sacred forest, interventions to enhance traditional beliefs or a patch of semi-evergreen forest (ca. 375 practices to secure the long-term survival of ha) surrounded by mixed deciduous forest this endangered Indochinese Leaf Monkey in the secrete forest area.

Indochinese Silvered Leaf Monkey Photo: Jonathan C. Eames

Lao WCA has worked closely with government officials at both central and local levels to ensure full recognition of species conservation needs in the profile of government conservation agencies. We first together conducted village questionnaire surveys at landscape level to investigate occurrence of the species in other locations outside Dong Sakee Forest, particularly in those areas given reports on species presence in the past. Our findings showed that the monkeys were formerly reported in several places with relatively high abundance across the landscape (Phin and Chonbuly districts), but they now have disappeared from most of those places as the result of hunting. At present, besides Dong Sakee (375

ha), only two other locations, Dong Moth (127 ha) and Dong Koukin (116 ha), have reports of the species existence. However, our team did not yet confirm certainty of species occurrence in these sites. At the end of February 2013, the field team, comprising staff from the Department of Forest Resource Management (DFRM), the Provincial/district offices for Forest Resource Management Division of Savannakhet and Phin, Savannakhet University – Faculty of Environmental Science, Lao WCA, and local villagers, conducted line transects. The transects were 100 m wide and varied in length from 300 – 600 m across the Dong Sakee Forest. Each team member was assigned to walk along one line in the morning (6:00-8:00 am) and in the afternoon (3:30-5:30 pm) and in a parallel to make direct observation of animals. When encountering animals, individual numbers were counted; time, direction and distance from the observer and line to the animals were noted, and photos were taken if possible. We found 24 individuals all together; groups of roughly two to 12 animals. The animals seem to disperse into small groups at this time of the year due to water scarcity in Dong Sakee. Villagers said in dry seasons the monkey tend to separate into small population and move to the near riparian forest area, 4-5 kilometres outside Dong Sakee forest to the west. Villagers recommended us to conduct counts again during the rainy season between August to earlier October. After the field ground survey, the team

Sam Veasna Centre for Wildlife Conservation (continued) Three other nests with 6 chicks of Greater Adjutant were also discovered. During the summer rainy season, patrol teams will go and locate the nests of Giant Ibis and Sarus Cranes and protection activities will be implemented accordingly ---Source: Johnny Orn, SVC manager

then gathered residents at the village and presented them our findings. Results were discussed and the possibility for future field surveys were agreed, and together developed a conceptual model for conservation of the Indochinese Leaf Monkey, by identifying direct and indirect threats and appropriate conservation interventions to secure the future survival of Monkey in this Secrete Forest Conservation Area. Given our findings and experiences, Lao WCA suggests working continually with the local community to better understand how the monkeys use the habitat and make sure these locations are included into the law. Further financial assistance is highly needed to ensure smooth ground implementation of field activities -----Source: Dr. Chanthavy Vongkhamheng, Director, The Lao Wildlife Conservation Association 28


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

W

Project UPDATES

WF-Cambodia Country Programme (www.cambodia. panda.org): ‘Identification of Wild Water Buffalo presence in Mondulkiri Protected Forest, eastern Cambodia’ (March 2011 – December 2012)

work was centred on MPF, covering 3,729 km2, because this is reported by the IUCN Wild Cattle Specialist Group as representing the only convincing potential population of WWB left in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (Hedges et al., 2008b).

Background

Camera-trap surveys

In Babbler 44, there was a short communication showing that the Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL) of Cambodia is home to more than 50% of the world population of banteng (Bos javanicus). In fact this landscape is a significant centre for wild cattle conservation supporting gaur (Bos gaurus) and historically both wild water buffalo (Bubalus arnee) and the now probably extinct kouprey (Bos sauveli). The wild water buffalo (WWB) (IUCN Endangered) is amongst the most poorly known large mammal species in Indo-Burma and a range-wide status review of Asian wild cattle, conducted by the IUCN Wild Cattle Specialist Group, highlighted clarification of the status of WWB populations, and research into their ecology, as a conservation priority (Hedges et al., 2008a). In the EPL, putative WWB were noted from the core area of Mondulkiri Protected Forest (MPF) (Timmins & Ou, 2001) and were photographed there by camera-traps up until June, 2007 (Gray et al. 2012) However the evidence for their presence since then has been ambiguous. To better understand the status of wild water buffalo, WWF-Cambodia conducted research over two years that combined historical data, camera trap data and interviews with local communities who know the forests well. The

WWB were photographed on seven occasions from four locations during preliminary camera-trapping in MPF between 2005 and 2007 (Gray et al. 2012). However, despite extensive subsequent camera-trapping between 2008 and 2011, the species was not encountered (Phan et al. 2010). However none of this cameratrapping was focused on WWB. Therefore across the 2011 wet and dry seasons, fifty camera traps were deployed covering the previously camera-trapped areas as well as high probability sites such as salt licks and water holes. A total of 1,831 trapping nights were completed and no images of WWB were captured (though, unfortunately, there were significant technical problems with 18 of the cameras which made their images unusable). The work was repeated in the 2012 wet and dry seasons, when thirty camera traps were distributed randomly (but still within areas considered to have a high probability of WWB both from previous records and from the village interviews (see below)). After 1,235 camera trap nights, there were no images of WWB. However, it should be noted that 10 of the 30 camera traps were stolen or destroyed, presumably by

hunters concerned that their images would be used as evidence against them. Despite not encountering WWB a total of 36 species were photographed including banteng (100 separate encounters). This suggests cameratrap placement was suitable for detecting, at least a proportion, of the wild cattle community in the protected area.

Building on local knowledge To complement the camera trapping activities, data was also taken from the enforcement reports compiled on a monthly basis by rangers working in MPF. This information showed that WWB were recorded in MPF between 2005-2009 with most sightings in the east of the protected forest. However the number of observations has recently declined; in 2007, rangers reported 47 separate encounters, but there have been no confirmed sightings of WWB by rangers in MPF since 2010. Interviews were also held with community members who take their own domestic buffalo and cattle into the forest for grazing. A total of 64 community members (from 12 villages spread across two districts – Koh Nyek and Pichreada) were talked to and all regularly took their livestock to the forest. The interviews showed that the villagers tend to restrict the range of their animals grazing, often to within 8km of their village for security (they reported that domestic buffalo will be stolen and/or killed by illegal hunters looking for meat). Of the 64 interviewed, 43 said that they had seen WWB in MPF. This was both through direct observation or by

seeing the tracks (WWB tracks are larger than domestic buffalo tracks). They also suggested that the regularity of seeing WWB was declining markedly – in 2006 and 2007 there were 10-20 sightings; whilst in 2009, 2010 and 2011 there was a total of only 1, 3 and 1 sighting respectively by the community members. The interviewees, based on their long experience in the forest, estimated that the remaining population of WWB in MPF may be as low as 25-40 individuals.

Wild water buffalo camera-trap photographs from Mondulkiri Protected Forest, eastern Cambodia (above November 2005; below June 2007). Photo: FA/WWF-Cambodia

29


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

review of camera-trapping data 19992007. Cambodian Journal of Natural History, 2012: 42-55. Hedges, S. et al. (2008a). A Regional Strategic Conservation Planning Workshop for Wild Cattle and Buffaloes in South and South-east Asia. IUCN Wild Cattle Specialist Group. Hedges, S., Sagar Baral, H., Timmins, R.J. & Duckworth, J.W. (2008b). Bubalus arnee. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 March 2013. Phan, C, Prum, S. and Gray, T.N.E. Conclusions 2010. Recent camera-trap records of This project, based on ranger reports, globally threatened species from the community feedback and over 3,000 camera trapping nights has shown that, Eastern Plains Landscape, Cambodia. Cambodian Journal of Natural History if WWB still survive in MPF, then they 2:89-93. do so in very low numbers and, most Timmins, R.J. and Ou R. (2001). The probably, only in the eastern parts of Importance of Phnom Prich Wildlife MPF. Sanctuary and Adjacent Areas for the Conservation of Tigers and Other Key As the probable last remaining home for WWB in Cambodia, MPF is of great Species: a Summary. Field Survey Report, WWF-Cambodia Conservation conservation significance. Although Program: Phnom Penh there is a dedicated ranger team --------in MPF, trophy hunting and habitat Source: Mark Wright, Eastern Plains destruction is still occurring across Landscape manager, WWF-Cambodia the landscape threatening the future of this species. If this future is to be secured these efforts must be continue , and indeed increased if the WWB is not to join the kouprey as a creature that no longer walks in these forests. A previous concern had been that there might be genetic dilution of any remaining WWB by cross breeding with domestic water buffalo. Community members were able to confirm that domestic buffalos tend to be restricted to the western parts of the protected forest and that, as far as they were aware, none had been reported to have gone feral. The likelihood of intermixing of domestic and wild buffalo, which are reported from the east is therefore presumed to be low.

References Gray, T.N.E, Ou, R., Huy, K., Pin, C., and Maxwell, A.L. 2012. The status of large mammals in eastern Cambodia: a

Project UPDATES

W

ildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program (www.wcs.org): ‘Conserving a Suite of Cambodia’s Highly Threatened Bird Species’ (October 2009 - June 2013) and ‘Conservation of the Siamese crocodile in Cambodia’ (February 2011- May 2013) Throughout the period the floodwaters were falling in the Tonle Sap floodplain. This marks the start of the breeding season for many of the threatened species that are the focus of the WCS CEPF projects. It is also the period when threats are increasing. As the floodwaters recede fishing becomes easier and more profitable in the flooded forest, the grasslands are revealed and ploughing is possible, whilst the dry-forest becomes truly dry and waterbirds rely heavily on the remaining streams and trapeangs. In Prek Toal Core Area the waterbirds returned to breed in the flooded forest. The Oriental Darters and the cormorants arrive first and begin to breed whilst the water levels are high. Owing the cancellation of Fishing Lot No. 2, which previously afforded a high level of incidental protection to the waterbird colony, there was an increase in the number of motorised fishing boats in Prek Toal this year. Access to the colony is easy when the water levels are high, and disturbance from motorboats is thought to have resulted in a relatively low number of Oriental Darters and cormorants. There was also one incident of egg collecting, again involving Oriental Darters and cormorants, at a recently established satellite colony. The incident took place at night, in an area that the rangers are not able to maintain a constant presence. Nonetheless as the season progressed the number of breeding birds built up steadily and early

indications are that this will be another record year for Great Adjutant, the world’s rarest stork. Prek Toal now supports the largest colony of this species anywhere in the world. In response to increasing numbers of illegal fishermen entering the core area and disturbing the breeding birds we increased the number of patrol teams to ten, and closed down access to the main streams. These are now thronged with feeding waterbirds. During the period, the crocodile project progressed well. Satellite transmitters were attached to two of the four pure-bred Siamese Crocodiles by a vet from ACCB. The crocodiles were transferred to a soft-release enclosure, where they will remain until they are fully released. By keeping them in a soft release enclosure in the centre of the bird colony (the area with the greatest protection) it is hoped that their familiarity with their surroundings will encourage them not to stray far when they are finally released. The period also marks the busiest time for one of our key project partners, Sam Veasna Centre (SVC). Early indications are that it has been another record year for SVC. Growth has been particularly strong at sites targeted by the CEPF project, such as Prey Veng. At Prey Veng the project has supported the training of local guides, cooks and people to manage the accommodation. This has led to an increase in the number of visitors to this important site, which helps to protect key CEPF species such as Giant Ibis and White-winged Duck --------Source: Simon Mahood, Technical Advisor: Tonle Sap and Vulture Conservation projects; Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Cambodia Program 30


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

L

iving River Siam Association (www.livingriversiam.org): Local Community Network for Fish Conservation in Ing River Basin, Thailand (February 2011- May 2013) Local communities play a key role in biodiversity protection in the Mekong River Basin. They have rights and capacity to protect and manage their natural resources. In many areas in the basin, local communities have worked together to manage their natural resources effectively. One of good examples is the network of local communities creating fish protection zones along Lower Ing River in Chiang Rai Province, Thailand with the help from Living River Siam. Ing River is a tributary of the Mekong River, starting from Phi Pannam mountain range in Prayao province. The river runs through many districts in the province and enters the Mekong River at Pak Ing Village in Chiang Rai province. The river is 250 kilometres long and the river basin is 7,338 square kilometres.

is created in nineteen villages so far. Meetings with local residents to set up community rules happen first then river ordination is required to create the zones. Ordination is a social innovation adapted from Buddhist monk ordinations to serve and blend Buddhist practice into environmental conservation activities. To keep the zones function effectively, villagers have to keep monitoring it and organising the ordination at least once a year. One of the main objectives of this project is to support the communities to continue protecting fish and aquatic species. We also hope to expand and share the model to other communities in the Mekong River Basin. Since the project start in November 2012, we have successfully completed some activities. Four communities have organised meetings to discuss about their zones and prepared for the next ordination. On 24 January 2013, villagers in Pak Ing Tai organised the first ordination. Many people including reporters from newspapers and two television stations participated in the activity . The ordination for two other villages are already planned to take place in the end of March and April.

Local communities along the Lower Ing River have done many activities to restore natural resources such as watershed restoration, planting community forest, implementing organic agriculture, and setting up fish protection Another successful activity was a field zones. The most important activity is visit from local communities in other creating fish protection zones, and that river basins. In January 2013, we worked

PROJECT UPDATeS

with Mekong Watch to organise a field trip for residents from two villages along Mun River in the northeast of Thailand to learn about the zones in the Lower Ing River. Pak Mun and Rasi Salai dams currently affect these two communities. Local leaders from the Network of People in Seven Mekong Provinces also participated in the activity. After the trip, participants committed to create the zones in their villages and they plan to create a network on fish protection zones among local communities in the Ing, Mun, and Mekong Rivers. They also plan to expand the network to other river basins in the North of Thailand too, especially Yom and Nan River Basins ------Source: Teerapong Pomun, Director, Living River Siam Association

C

entre for Water Resources Conservation and Development (www.warecod.org.vn): Strengthening Communities’ Resilience to the Potential Risks from Proposed Dams on the Mekong Mainstream (May 2011 – Oct 2012) Through this project, WARECOD aim to raise the awareness of and bring voices from local communities to targeted decision makers and opinion formers in the government, party and media organisations in Mekong Delta provinces about potential impacts from mainstream dam development on the Mekong River. Under component 1 which focuses on communication work, the WARECOD team, along with experts from Can Tho University, have printed and distributed 1,000 factsheets, 1,000 leaflets and 100 posters on the findings of a study on mainstream dam development; plus a documentary film entitled “The disappearance of flooding season” in cooperation with VTV16 channel was produced and broadcasted widely. 200 copies were produced and delivered to Vietnam Rivers Network’s partners and interested members. Roughly over 45,000 views of this film have been estimated. The film can be viewed here part 1, part 2 and part 3. And at least five news updates of mainstream dam construction and project activities were broadcasted on local radio stations. In addition, two field trips for journalists, one in the dry season and one in the rainy season to the vulnerable sites for dam construction in southern Vietnam were organised. After seeing and recording the changes of the rivers and affects 31


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

project updates

towards to local communities, the reporters have written 13 articles and posted on five popular newspapers on WARECOD‘s website. Under Component 2, WARECOD organised a conference entitled “Integrated watershed forest and river basin management in Vietnam” accompanied by a small exhibition with the participation of nearly 100 people. News of this event was spread nationwide. Three other dialogues on challenges of the proposed dams on the Mekong mainstream to the biodiversity of the Mekong Delta were held and attended by representatives from various farmers, government agencies, research institutes, civil society organisations and media organisations. The project taught the WARECOD team many valuable lessons on the need for detailed planning, flexibility, timing to harmonisation among different partners’ working styles. We learned that it would be easier for the team to have a partner living in the field to facilitate our work when reaching out to new project sites. Since the essence of the issue requires the involvement from many stakeholders, we tried to get information from many sources and conveyed our messages to targeted audiences through various channels such as journals, documentary film, dialogue, factsheets, communication events, and social media like Youtube and Facebook. Following the work on the issue of Mekong dams, WARECOD is implementing another CEPF funded project entitled “Raising awareness on potential impacts of upstream development activities to hydrological regimes, livelihoods and biodiversity in the Plain of Reeds, Mekong Delta” of which overall objective is to promote biodiversity conservation and community river monitoring in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The team will cooperate with universities in the Mekong region to get better understanding on the significance of the river from the point of view of local people. An Giang Province, at the conjunction of Tien and Hau rivers (two main tributaries of Mekong river in Vietnam territory) was chosen as the project site ------Source: Le Thi Kim Ngan, WARECOD

New radio-telemetry study for endangered turtles in central Vietnam following trapping success

Pictured here is the first turtle caught during the trapping effort in January 2013. This small Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Mauremys sinensis) was too small (55g) to fit with a radio transmitter, so he was marked and released. Photo: Grover Brown/ATP

C

leveland Zoological Society, Asian Turtle Programme ATP (www. clevelandzoosociety. org; www.asianturtleprogram.org: Research and Conservation Action for Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles in Indo-Burma (Oct 2009-Mar 2013

wetland areas the species is at higher risk of extinction as wetland habitat are converted for rice production and the species is hunted for the wildlife trade where it has a high economic value.

Although the team did not encounter any Vietnamese From the 21st-27th January 2013, members of the ATP pond turtles during this trapping a local had found team in Quang Ngai City spent time in Binh Son District, a large, adult female just a week before in the same Quang Ngai Province, central Vietnam, for a week-long small area of wetland. This was both encouraging and trapping effort in an area slated to become a Species disheartening: encouraging in that a small population Habitat Conservation Area (SHCA) for endangered of Vietnamese pond turtles still exists in the area, turtles. This is an area the Forest Protection Department but disheartening in the fact that the turtles, despite (FPD) of Quang Ngai would like to set aside and protect their rarity and the fact they are fully protected under for the critically endangered Vietnamese pond turtle national law, are still being opportunistically collected in (Mauremys annamensis). Currently, this species is not the area. known from any protected areas, living in lowland During the January trapping the team, two former 32


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013 student’s from the ATP turtle field skill training course March 2013, Nguyen Thanh Luan and Vo Si Lam, along with an international volunteer from the USA, Grover Brown III, had good results. In Binh Minh commune they caught three Endangered Chinese stripe-necked turtles (Mauremys sinensis) over the course of three days. Closely related to the Vietnamese pond turtle the species occur within the same wetlands and hybrids have even been observed in local communities. Genetic samples were collected from each animal, and each turtle was notched on its marginal (outer) scutes to give it a unique identity should it be trapped or seen again. Radio transmitters were attached to the two largest animals which were big enough to carry the 35g transmitters to allow them to be track over the course of the next 12 months. Tracking will allow the team to better understand how the turtles are using the fragmented wetlands they inhabit, important considerations for future research and conservation planning for the species. So far, after tracking the turtles a few times, these subadult Mauremys sinensis are behaving much more like the North American bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) by inhabiting boggy wetlands and streams rather than the large lake in close proximity. Even after just a few weeks of radio tracking, the team is already receiving very interesting feedback from this study. Over the course of one week (from 1st February to 8th February 2013), the small female moved approximately 500 meters (straight-line distance, so likely much farther) down a very steep embankment, and into a series of rice fields. Initially the team thought the turtle’s signal was coming

PROJECT UPDATeS

E

ducation for Nature - Vietnam (www. envietnam.org): Targeted campaign to reduce consumption of rhino horn in Vietnam (Nov 2012 - Sep 2013)

Radio tracking is often tough going in the thick undergrowth which does an excellent job in concealing the turtles Photo: Grover Brown/ATP

from a nearby village and feared the worst, but luckily that was not the case this time. The team are looking forward to tracking the movements of these surprisingly mobile turtles. An interesting natural history note to take away from the trapping effort is that, at least in this location, the Vietnamese pond turtle (Mauremys annamensis) and the Chinese stripe-necked turtle (Mauremys sinensis) occur sympatrically. This means that the hybrid Mauremys found in a drained wetland in May 2012 may represent a naturally occurring hybridization of the two species. That in turn creates a number of interesting evolutionary questions as to the speciation and divergence of these very similar, sympatric species. The ATP also hopes to use this radio-tracking survey no only to evaluate the home range and movements of these turtles, but as an opportunity to educate local school groups, FPD officers and others in the community about turtle ecology ---------Source: Grover Brown – ATP

Vietnam is considered to be a major rhino horn consumer market in Asia. Demand from Vietnamese consumers for rhino horn has already resulted in the extinction of the Javan rhino in Vietnam in 2010, and is considered to have been a significant factor in the unprecedented killing of 668 rhinos in South Africa in 2012. Recognizing the role of Vietnam in sharing responsibility to protect the world’s rhinos, since August 2012, ENV has initiated the program “Reducing rhino horn consumption in Vietnam through demand reduction and law enforcement,” aiming to stop illegal rhino horn trade by strengthening law enforcement, reducing the demand for rhino horn in Vietnam through a variety of activities and campaigns to raise public awareness, and increasing public participation in stopping illegal trade in rhino horns. The viral campaign has been launched with regular postings on websites, forums and facebook (ENV fan page with over 5,500 members) to influence and encourage viewers to join in efforts to protect rhinos worldwide by sharing photos, clips, news, and messages with their friends and among their network. In addition, many

other websites and forums including both public and government sites, were also approached to participate in placing our rhino banners on their channels. So far, 60 websites and forums have posted ENV’s rhino banner, and the number of viewers visiting ENV’s rhino webpage via these channels increased significantly by up to 12,000 viewers within two weeks. Furthermore, a public service announcement (PSA), which aims to associate a negative social attitude towards rhino horn users and urge people not to consume rhino horn, was released on March 08, 2013 at the following links Vietnamese version or with English subtitles. This is the first in a new series of PSAs targeting rhino horn consumers to be released this year, and part of ENV’s rapidly expanding rhino awareness campaign. The video clip describes rhino horn consumers as “foolish, ignorant, backward, cruel and evil”, and emphasizes that rhino horn is not a status symbol or a magical medicine. It goes on to urge viewers not to consume rhino horn, and to report crimes involving rhino horn to authorities or ENV’s toll-free National Wildlife Crime Hotline. The PSA will be broadcast on national and provincial TV stations later in March, as well as reach audiences virally through websites, forums, and blogs. 33


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

Businessmen and people with high social-status are supposed to be the highest-potential consumers of rhino horn due to its high dollar value, and are our main targeted audience. Also, the attitudes and actions of these people may have a big influence on the public. Therefore, an awareness campaign has been initiated to directly target corporate CEOs and call for their support to spread the message “Rhino horn is neither a magical medicine nor a status symbol”. The message was also delivered to National Assembly members, decision makers, enforcement officers and CEOs via a Tet postcard. The program was also designed to target the general public by displaying a rhino standee banner at some of public events, and creating a feedback system through which the public can share their ideas about rhino horn consumption issues, such as “There is a rumor that rhino horn can be used to cure cancer. Do you believe this rumor to be true?” Through four wildlife trade exhibits in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city and Da Nang city in August 2012, 214 people shared their thoughts on this issue, and the results are illustrated in the table below: 160 people (74.8%) do not believe that rhino horn can cure cancer; 33 people (15.4%) think that rhino horn can cure cancer; 21 people (9.8%) said that they are not sure whether rhino horn can cure cancer or not. In addition, traditional Chinese medicine doctors/ pharmacists whose voice and actions may have a strong influence on public attitudes and actions are also engaged to encourage people to dispel both myth and rumors about the magical value of rhino horn. ENV expects that through our efforts, the public and government of Vietnam will develop an increased understanding of the role and responsibility of Vietnam in protecting global populations of rhinos ------Source: Tran Tuyet Minh, Wildlife Trade Program Manager, Education for Nature-Vietnam

PROJECT UPDATeS

Many Plant Species In Indochina Face High Extinction Risk

M

issouri Botanical Garden (www. missouribotanicalgarden. org): Assessment of the Status and Distribution of Globally Threatened Plant Species in Indo-Burma (Jul 2009 - Dec 2012) The three-year project funded by CEPF to assess the conservation status and distribution of globally threatened plant species in Indochina has concluded with a workshop held in Hanoi from 1-2 November 2012. The final workshop summarized the accomplishments of this multi-institutional collaborative project led by the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), and Frontier, in collaboration with partner botanical institutions, academic universities, and government and non-government organizations in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Before the project started in 2009, only 248 plants species, fewer than 1% of the ca. 15,000-25,000 indigenous vascular plant species, had been assessed. Most of the assessments were conducted in 1997 using the outdated 1994 IUCN Categories and Criteria; therefore these assessments were no longer accurate.

Under the leadership of a full-time Project Manager, the project successfully engaged the botanical community working on the flora of Indochina and organised a network of more than 70 professionals who compiled and analyzed multi-taxa plant data from a conservation perspective. Two Red Listing workshops were conducted and facilitated by project staff of IUCN, BGCI, and MBG. Forty-five botanical experts and facilitators attended the first Red Listing workshop held in Hanoi, Vietnam, from 1-4 December 2010. Thirtytwo botanical experts and facilitators attended the second Red Listing workshop held in Chiang Mai, Thailand,

from 1-5 November 2011. Forty-one botanists from Vietnam (20), Laos (8), Thailand (6), Cambodia (5), and China (2) were trained in the rigorous application of the most recent version of the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. A total of 607 species were assessed, which include 88 re-assessments and 519 new assessments. Comparison of the results of assessments of 248 species in 1997 and the project assessments of 607 species showed great increase in the number of Critically Endangered species (from 35 to 91 species) and in the number of Endangered species (from 38 to

34


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

PROJECT UPDATeS

114 species). The number of Vulnerable species decreased slightly (from 90 to 84 species). Nearly half of the total 607 species assessed was found to be threatened. Many potentially threatened species (211 out of 607 species = 35%) could not be assessed satisfactorily, and the Data Deficient category was assigned for lack of data on the species. The problem of assessing species known only from a limited number of specimens and/ or from old material is encountered very frequently, especially in poorly inventoried floras such as those of Indochina. The flora of Indochina is still poorly known because of the small number of collections of rare and endemic species, the shortage of taxonomists studying the flora, and the lack of knowledge of the ecology of many species. More field surveys are therefore needed to determine the current status of populations of threatened species. The availability of new specimens and

system, particularly in Laos. Like the protected areas in the region, the IPAs are severely fragmented, varying considerably The project also conducted workshops that in size and condition of forest habitats. In many areas, degradation of conservation identified for the first time the Important values is ongoing as a result of local Plant Areas (IPAs) for site conservation agricultural encroachment, infrastructure action in the region. Four national and tourism development, illegal logging, consultative workshops to identify IPAs and overharvesting of non-timber were conducted in Bangkok from 27-28 forest products. The identification and August 2012; in Vientiane from 20-21 analysis of IPAs in the region will provide September 2012; in Phnom Penh from policy makers with geographic targets 10-11 October 2012; and in Hanoi from for expanding protected area coverage 25-26 October 2012. A total of 37 plant and prioritizing sites that require urgent taxonomists and ecologists participated conservation action.| in these workshops. The workshop participants identified and analyzed 286 View more photos of the workshop here IPAs, covering 151,653 square kilometers or some threatened plant species in the or 12 percent of the Indochina region. region here Only 81% of IPAs is wholly or partly included within protected areas such -------as national parks, nature reserves, and Source: Jack Regalado, Project Manager, wildlife sanctuaries, suggesting the need Missouri Botanical Garden for further expansion of protected area ecological data will provide more accurate assessments.

Area, number, and coverage of IPAs identified in Indochina

Impatiens angustisepala (Balsaminaceae), a Critically Endangered species known only from the Boloven Plateau in Laos; first found in 1928 and rediscovered in 2011. Photo: Piyakaset Suksathan

Area (km2) Area of IPAs (km2) % country in IPA No. of IPAs No. of IPAs protected % IPAs protected

Thailand 510,890

Lao PDR 236,800

Cambodia 81,035

Vietnam 310,070

Total 1,238,795

51,415

39,716

44,952

15,570

151,653

10.06%

16.77%

24.8%

5.02%

12.24%

90

50

47

99

286

84

24

42

82

232

93%

48%

89%

83%

81% 35


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

PROJECT UPDATeS

Vulture rehabilitation at Western Siem Pang

A White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis in the new enclose. Photo: BirdLife Cambodia Programme

W

ithin the last six months two weakened vultures were found at Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Forest. Following veterinary examination it appeared the birds were suffering from starvation, this is despite regular provision of food at restaurants. The possibility exists therefore that vultures do face a food shortage at Western Siem Pang.

rescue and rehabilitation. The construction of this new enclosure was completed in March 2013 and its first occupant a White-rumped Vulture Gyps bengalensis, which a local people in Phabang village found during Khmer New Year. After one week of treatment in the enclosure with 0.5 to 0.75 kg of fresh meat daily the vulture has regained strength and can now fly. It is planned to release it during the May vulture restaurant. -------Source: Bou Vorsak, Programme Manager, BirdLife Cambodia programme.

Camera traps confirm Sun Bear and Gaur at Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Forest

W

Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea.

ith funding support from MacArthur Foundation and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, 20 camera traps have recently been deployed in Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Forest (WSP), Stung Treng Province, Cambodia. The first few traps recorded Sun Bear Ursus malayanus and Gaur Bos gaurus, thereby confirming their presence at the site. A camera trap training was provided to the field monitoring team and project staff at Western Siem Pang office on 29-30 Jan 2013. This course provided basic knowledge of setting camera traps and proper using of monitoring forms during patrols. The trainees had an opportunity to do a one night-field practice at Viel Kreel and Trapeang Ktum where there are many trapeangs which provide important habitats for key species like Eld’s deer Rucervus eldii, Whiteshouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni and Giant

Later fifteen camera traps were set in WSP to monitor wildlife especially large mammals and cat species and after two months’ effort Giant Ibis, Eld’s deer, East Asian Porcupine Hystrix Brachyura, Wild pig (Sus scrofa), Sambar Rusa unicolor, Red Muntjac Muntiacus vaginalis, Long-tailed Macaque Macaca fascicularis, Green Peafowl Pavo muticus and Lesser Adjustant Leptoptilos javanicus. Further camera trapping effort will be made to record wild cattle and carnivores in the future to guide site management -------Source: Hort Sothea, Western Siem Pang Project Manager, BirdLIfe Cambodia Programme.

In January, a veterinarian from the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity provided a training for BirdLife staff on vulture rescue and rehabilitation and the two organisations collaborated to build a holding enclosure to keep birds during Images of Sun bear and Gaur in Western Siem Pang. Source: BirdLife Cambodia Programme

36


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

PROJECT UPDATeS

Logging in Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo: Sum Phearun/BirdLife

Last attempt to save unique biodiversity of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary

L

omphat Wildlife Sanctuary in northeastern Cambodia covers about 250,000 hectares of what was, until recently, largely intact dry deciduous and evergreen forest along the Srepok River, a major tributary to the Mekong. The sanctuary was identified by BirdLife as an Important Bird Area in 2003 for the presence of several critically endangered species such as the Giant ibis – the national bird of Cambodia – White-shouldered Ibis , Whiterumped Vulture, Slender-billed Vulture, Red-headed Vulture and Mekong Wagtail, in addition to several globally threatened large mammals. A range of threats to the site have emerged

over the years, including hunting and land encroachment. Several conservation partners and donors have invested in addressing these threats, and the results have often been documented in these pages. However, since 2011 Lomphat has been faced with conversion of at least 50,000 hectares to agro-industrial plantation under six economic land concession companies from Vietnam, China and Cambodia. Under these “Economic Land Concessions”, thousands of hectares have already been cleared, mostly for rubber and oil palm plantation. The concessions are not located based on any biodiversity values, are incompatible the conservation goals of the

sanctuary (and the Cambodian Protected Area law), and are very loosely regulated and enforced. As if the legally sanctioned loss of over one fifth of the sanctuary was not enough, evidence has emerged that concession owners are also involved in illegal logging. A recent report by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association that was also reported through local media alleges that at least 16,000 trees were cut outside the Lomphat concessions and that many of those trees customarily belong to local indigenous people who have used them for resin collection, often for generations. It is also alleged that Vietnamese companies are using their land concessions to lauder illegal timber and make it legal before being

exported. BirdLife International and its partners are very concerned about these new developments. We are particularly concerned that pristine habitat and globally and nationally important species will be gone if no concrete action is taken by relevant stakeholders, particularly government. We call for a thorough and immediate investigation of accusations of illegal logging. If confirmed, criminal activity should be punished with, inter alia, punitive fines and/ or the temporary or permanent revocation of land concession licenses. Despite these challenges the People 37


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

PROJECT UPDATeS

Monitoring biodiversity with conservation drones

C Village consultation to develop zoning management plan for Lomphat (PRCF/BirdLife Zoning team)

and Resources Conservation Foundation, in partnership with BirdLife International, are currently supporting the Ministry of Environment (MoE) to develop a management zoning plan for Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary. We believe that with a clear zoning plan it will be possible to minimize the threats from overcutting by concession owners and safeguard as much of the remaining forest as possible, particularly core biodiversity areas. Part of the zoning process, in the first quarter of 2013, has involved village consultation meetings in 26 villages located within and bordering the sanctuary, and the collation of existing biodiversity data. We expected that the first draft zoning plan will be completed in the second quarter of 2013 for presentation to MoE. To many involved in this process, zonation may be our last attempt to save the unique biodiversity in Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, and we hope that the depressing scenes shown in the accompanying pictures will be the last that emerge from this once pristine “sanctuary” ------Source: Mark Grindley (PRCF Technical advisor) and Bou Vorsak (BirdLife Cambodia Programme)

onservationists are turning to new technology and techniques for monitoring forest encroachment, poaching and other threats to biodiversity. During 9-11 April 2013, BirdLife Cambodia Programme, Conservation International and Wildlife Conservation Society - Asia Programs held a training exercise for 14 government and non-government staff on flying drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and basic data collection. The training took place at Pu Trom, in the Seima Protection Forest, in Mondulkiri Province. The course aimed to provide a basic familiarization of the Maja UAV, a model that has been developed by engineers in Switzerland. Two experts, Serge Wich and Simon Wunderlin with many years of experience working with UAVs were invited to be the trainers of the course. Knowledge of specific skills included the components of the aircraft, autopilot, batteries, GPS, and cameras; transmitter and its basic functions; mission planner software that is used to command the aircraft; how to operate cameras and download images and video; how to do basic repairs on the aircraft and most importantly applications for UAVs in monitoring wildlife and critical habitats, were provided. The trainers demonstrated how to fly the Maja UAV and how to land one. Take off and landing is actually quite tricky and

in non-optimal conditions such as when wind speed is higher than 10 - 15km/hour at ground level, it’s not possible to fly on autopilot and requires a skilled operator to manually control the aircraft. The training team encountered a few technical hiccups and two of the fuselages were damaged in the course of practice flying. Also, three days turned out not to be sufficient to get all the participants up to speed with the full range of skills required to operate the UAVs with confidence. Therefore, Serge and Simon have kindly offered to return in the last week of June to do a follow-up training. Between now and then the group has set up a Cambodia UAV users group for sharing ideas and information about flying these aircraft. The training experts have provided the group members links to various documents that can help them learn more about UAVs and using the mission planner, and prepare themselves for a more focused training at the end of June (part 2) that will aim to provide at least the minimum skills and confidence to the key staff who will operate the UAVs. The BirdLife drone was purchased with financial support from Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation to monitor forest cover change in Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Area. Hopefully in the future the data collected from this UAV will

Let’s get it fly. Photo: BirdLife

Ty Srun, a GIS officer (BirdLife) first checking a drone. Photo: Vorsak Bou

provide better information about the area for better conservation management. For a short clip of the training, please open the link www.conservationdrones.org ------Source: Dr. Antony J. Lynam
Regional Advisor
Wildlife Conservation Society Asia Programs and Bou Vorsak, BirdLife Cambodia Programme Manager.

38


PROJECT UPDATeS

The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

World Wetlands Day 2013 in Cambodia

I

n Cambodia, the Department of Wetlands and Costal Zones (DWC) of the Ministry of Environment is the national Ramsar Administration Authority (RRA) and government focal point to the convention. On the 23 and 24 of February 2013, Cambodia organised its own public awareness event at Peam Krasob Secondary School, with support from DWC in collaboration with the Forestry Administration (FA) and Fisheries Administration (FiA) and Non Governmental Organization (NGO) partners including IUCN, GEF-Costal Zone Climate Change Project, BirdLife International, Flora and Fauna International, World Wide Fund for Nature, NGO-Forum, International Crane Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Mlub Baitong, Live and Learn,

Linkworld Travel agency, and Pannasastra University of Cambodia. The theme of the 2013 World Wetlands Day was “Wetlands take care of water”, inspired by the United Nations “International Year of Water cooperation”. One thousand posters, 500 t-shirts and 20 banners were produced in the Khmer language. Participants held six educational classes for primary and secondary school students and planted grass and mangrove trees in Peam Krasob wildlife sanctuary and along the beach. Read the full report -------Photo and news source: Bou Vorsak, BirdLife Cambodia Programme Manager

Census of non-­breeding Sarus Cranes in Cambodia and Vietnam - 2012

S

ynchronized counts of non-breeding Sarus cranes (Grus antigone) have been conducted in Cambodia and Vietnam since 2001. In 2012, synchronized counted were conducted once a month from January to April. Counts were conducted at 7 sites in Cambodia and 8 sites in Vietnam. The census was conducted at sites where cranes are known to occur in the dry season. Sites in Cambodia are located in western Mekong Delta wetlands, grasslands and wetlands around the Tonle Sap Lake and forests in the North and Northeast. With the exception of Lo Go Xa Mat National Park, all sites in Vietnam are located in the Mekong Delta. Most counts were repeated on two consecutive days, as set in advance by the

regional coordinators, with times limited to a few hours in the morning or evening. The highest of either count was then used. For the Tonle Sap grasslands there are three sites: Baray-Choung Doung BFCAs, Kruos Kraom, and the Stoung-Chikraeng BFCAs. Consecutive counts were conducted at the same time of day, the results pooled across these sites due to their close proximity and the highest total count used. Read the brief summary report for further results of the census -------Source: Tran Triet (International Crane Foundation – Southeast Asia Program) and Robert van Zalinge (Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust – Cambodian Lower Mekong Wetlands Project) Photo: Sarus Cranes. Jonathan C. Eames 39


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

REVIEWS

Evidence-based Conservation: Lessons from the Lower Mekong

T

here is a considerable gap between the science of conservation biology and the design and execution of biodiversity conservation projects in the field. Science is often failing to inform the practice of conservation, which remains largely experience-based. The main reason is the poor accessibility of evidence on the effectiveness of different interventions. This is the basis for Evidence-based Conservation adopting an ‘evidence-based approach’, modelled on the systematic reviews used in health sciences and now being applied to many policy arenas. Evidence-based Conservation brings together a series of case studies, written by field practitioners, that provides the

evidence-base for evaluating how effective conservation and poverty alleviation strategies can be better implemented. A series of systematic reviews uses experiences and data from fifteen integrated conservation and development projects conducted in the Lower Mekong region, specifically in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. They provide wide-ranging overviews of the effectiveness of protected areas and how innovative tools and methods for monitoring and evaluation can be utilised for more effective outcomes. Results are in the form of management and policy recommendations, based on the quality of evidence and the cost-utility of the intervention. By bridging the gap between field practice and conservation, the analysis

should lead to more effective integrated conservation and development interventions. Evidence-based Conservation represents one of the first attempts to apply the evidencebased approach to conservation and development. Edited by Terry C.H. Sunderland, Jeffrey Sayer, Minh-Ha Hoang. 2013. Centre for International Forestry Research --------Source: www.nhbs.com

Photographic field guide to the birds of Vietnam

T

he “Photographic field guide to the birds of Vietnam” (2012) by Le Manh Hung is the first comprehensive photographic guide to the birds of Vietnam, covering more than 50% local bird species. All the photographs were taken by the author in Vietnam. The book not only aims to update the scientific data on bird distribution ranges and status but also help raise awareness on the importance of wildlife in general and birds in particular. The guide book introduces a total of 532 bird species found in Vietnam with 851 images including 6 national endemic, 24 globally and 19 nationally threatened species. Since 2006 the author has travelled

throughout Vietnam, from the country’s highest peak, Mount Fansipan in the far northwest to the island of Con Dao National Park off the southern coast, to collect the photographic proof of those species. The image quality varies significantly due to the optical equipment and techniques used by the author at different times including digiscoping with a Nikon Coolpix 4500 camera connected to a Swarovski ATS 80 scope, a Canon 30D; 7D with Sigma 100 x 400m lens and Canon 400mm and 500mm lenses. The taxonomy, sequence and nomenclature used in this book follow “A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia” (2009) by Craig

Robson, which is in compliance with “The Howard and More Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World” (Dickinson 2003). Vietnamese names are based on the “Checklist of the Birds of Vietnam” by Vo Quy, Nguyen Cu (1995) and “Chim Vietnam” by Nguyen Cu et al (2000). Some Vietnamese names are the author’s own translation. The national status of the species is based on the author’s records with reference to “A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia” (2009) by Craig Robson. The globally threatened status follows the IUCN Red List (2012), and the nationally threatened status follows the Vietnam Red Data Book (2007) -----Source: Le Manh Hung 40


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

PERSONALITY

Joel Lawrence Holzman: wildlife photographer and videographer BACKGROUND Joel spent three months with the People Resources and Conservation Foundation’s Vietnam program during 2011 – 2012.

JOEL’S OWN STORY Born - April 9, 1947; Brooklyn, New York

I developed my photographic skills at an He was keen to learn first-hand about PRCF’s early age and found myself photographing wildlife conservation work. In return, Joel everything around me: family, friends, pets, offered to produce photographs and a video and nature in general. I also started using documentary on the organization’s efforts to 8mm, as well as 16mm, film cameras to safeguard the endangered François’ langur, record events of my time, including massive one of PRCF Vietnam’s flagship species. peace demonstrations in the states [United States] during the Vietnamese War era. Field staff were impressed by Joel’s fitness, enthusiasm, professionalism – and I had a talent for photographing women, unswerving determination – to observe and turned it into a full-time profession and document this elusive langur species in after moving to California from New York in the mid 1970’s. I finally settled in Los Angeles in 1979, where for thirteen years I did a combination of mostly glamour and some fashion photography, as well as shooting Hollywood celebrities for national publications.

the rugged limestone karst forest areas of northern Vietnam.

However in 1993 I took a very different path. I left Los Angeles for Miami, Florida, and returned to school at the University of Miami to earn my bachelor’s degree in Marine Science. After graduating in 1996 I left for Gabon, Africa in 1997 for 30 months to work with the United States Peace Corps, promoting aquaculture to local farmers. While doing this I found an unused Peace Corps video camera and began shooting videos of the varied Peace Corps activities throughout Gabon, as well as local tribal cultural events.

When I left the Peace Corps at the end of 1999 I had accumulated over 10 hours of edited videos from my experiences there. This inspired me to pursue a master’s degree in visual and physical anthropology at San Francisco State University in 2000. As part of this course, I researched western lowland gorillas at the San Francisco Zoo. My final thesis project involved photographing this species in their natural habitat – back in Gabon – in 2002.

Cat Ba langur, an isolated langur species found only on Cat Ba Island, Vietnam.

Rick was also my connection with the western lowland gorillas of Gabon. He had been working with the NGO Projet Protection des Gorilles, a sanctuary for these gorillas in southeastern Gabon, near the Congolese border. Through Rick and this NGO, I was able to gain permission to spend a month with the gorillas: researching, photographing and videoing the natural Doing documentaries was always my choice activities of a group of 17 individuals ranging of work, and promoting nature conservation in age from 11 months to 7 years old. through my film experiences made my job even more rewarding. It was amazing to have such good access to the group, allowing me to observe the Being a Hollywood photographer may gorillas’ everyday interactions with each seem like a dream job. But promoting the other and with the Gabonese keepers who conservation cause and informing the public were there to help protect them. I was able – and helping to save animal species that to closely observe how these gorillas survive are in danger of extinction – are much more in their natural habitat – the isolated jungle important to me. and savannah by the quick-flowing Mpassa River. GORILLA DOCUMENTARY Spending over two years working in a My worst experiences were in dealing with foreign country gives you many personal the harsh conditions we all lived in with insights and special connections that you these gorillas. We had to contend with all can only obtain by being there. When I left kinds of biting insects, as well as the heat the Peace Corps I managed to keep up my and humidity – even though I shot in the close friendships with some of the other dry, cooler summer season. volunteers I’d met there. One of my closest friends was Rick Passaro, a zoologist and There is a short segment in my film where fellow aquaculture volunteer. This is the I’m talking to the camera, explaining what same Rick Passaro who now heads the Cat I was observing that day. You can see the Ba Langur Conservation Project. He is doing exhaustion in my face from all the hours outstanding work to save the endangered I had to spend in the field to shoot my 41


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

footage. This, however, is what makes it all worthwhile – and what is necessary to obtain the footage for a wildlife documentary that will catch the viewer’s attention.

As an anthropologist, I especially enjoyed the fieldwork, living with the local farmers who acted as our langur guides, and getting to know and photograph their everyday activities. My filming experiences in Vietnam also The end result worked for me: I was able took me to PRCF meetings with the local to produce a 73-minute documentary Tuyen Quang Provincial Committee. of western lowland gorilla life. I believe These meetings help develop it also educated the public at the same cooperative conservation programs time. My film won some film festival that aim to save the last few remaining awards and has had both private and langur groups found in Tuyen Quang public showings – all helping to achieve province. wider audience appreciation of these magnificent animals. Maybe this is what drives me to do wildlife conservation documentaries: if FRANCOIS’ LANGUR DOCUMENTARY I can educate people and change their Thanks again to Rick Passaro who views on how to help save a threatend introduced me to the work PRCF is doing animal species from extinction, then in northern Vietnam to conserve the in turn I may help save an individual Francois’ langur. I was later able to work animal too. Without the work done by with this NGO to document their efforts. NGOs like PRCF and people like myself who video and photograph the animals I spent three months during late winter, in the wild, threatened and endangered early spring 2011 – 2012 in northern wildlife species have little chance for Vietnam, working on my documentary. survival. This experience was very different to my time with the African gorillas: I’m thankful for the opportunity to do the langurs live high up in limestone what I’m doing, and to work with all cliffs, making it difficult to observe and those dedicated conservationists doing photograph them. what they do best out in the field. An important aspect of PRCF’s conservation work is environmental awareness-raising with the local community, encouraging the local people to help protect the langurs in their area. A major part of my film therefore deals with PRCF’s communitybased conservation projects.

STUDIO Since returning to the US from Vietnam, I’ve built a photographic studio in northern California near San Francisco. This will be used to do multimedia projects of different sorts, and serve as a home base for me for the next five years.

Grantee PROFILE I hope to return to Vietnam in 2013 to continue my film work with PRCF and their wildlife and community conservation projects. A FINAL NOTE: SHOOT THE WILDLIFE! With all the excellent digital video and still cameras available to us in every price range, ‘shooting’ or documenting wildlife has become much more accessible to everyone. We need more amateur, as well as professional, wildlife documentaries that publicize conservation issues. No matter whether the documentary is short or long, it helps to educate people, making them more aware of the threats that most animal species are now facing in order to live and reproduce in the wild. And this is especially important in Vietnam Some photos of Joel Lawrence’s work can be viewed here -------Source: Story by Joel Lawrence Holzman (joellawrence@ymail.com), videographer/photographer Edited by Brenda Mattick, PRCF Communications officer/VIDA volunteer

3S Rivers Protection Network

T

hree “S” Rivers Protection Network 3SPN is a Cambodian local civil society organization, which was founded in Banlung Town, Ratanakiri Province in 2001 and officially registered with the Ministry of Interior in 2005. The network was founded in order to assist dam-affected communities living alongside the Sesan River in Cambodia after serious impacts occurred along the river caused by the hydropower dam construction upstream in Vietnam. Recently, 3SPN has expanded its activities to cover and assist villages situated along two other rivers in northeastern Cambodia; the Srepok and Sekong Rivers, due to requests from villagers and the potential threats from dam construction occurring along these two rivers in Vietnam and Lao PRD. 3SPN Mission Our mission is to promote “Best Practice” on social development, environmental governance, public participation, and to ensure that all relevant laws and policies are promoted, respected and applied. 3SPN Vision 3SPN envisions development that is for all, based on principles of ecological sustainability, environmental accountability and social justice. 3SPN Strategies In order to achieve our vision, 3SPN focuses on strategies which incorporate the interlinked aspects of social, environmental and economic development. Specifically, 3SPN aims to: 42


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

STAFF NEWS

• Build the capacity of 3-S communities through community mobilisation and community advocacy networking • Raise public awareness on the impacts of dams and the rights of indigenous people • Promote “best practice” environmental and socio-economic development policies through dialogue and information sharing sessions • Promote multi-cooperation with all stakeholders include civil society organizations, governmental and private sectors, and relevant institutions in order to restore social, economic and environmental values in the 3S regions. In 2009, 3SPN received a one-year small grant from CEPF entitled “Raising Awareness of Possible Impacts from Dams on the Srepok, Sesan and Sekong (RAPIDS).’’ It helps raise awareness of communities along the Sekong, Sesan and Srepok rivers in Ratanakiri and Stung Treng provinces, Cambodia, of impending hydropower projects and enable – through meetings and development of a film – voices from communities, livelihood impacts, international conservation values and environmental opportunity costs to be taken into account as part of impact assessments and the decision-making process. More information about 3SPN, please log in here

Neab Samneang

N

eab Samneang started working for BirdLife Cambodia Programme in January 2013 as project officer based in Western Siem Pang proposed Protected Forest, Stung Treng Province, Cambodia. He has a Bachelor in Environmental Science from Paññāsāstra University of Cambodia where he previously worked as enrolment coordinator. Samneang has a strong interest in environmental research and biology conservation

Hort Sothea

H

ort Sothea started working for BirdLife Cambodia Programme in January 2013 as Project Manager at Western Siem Pang Proposed Protected Forest, seconded from Forestry Administration. Sothea started working in conservation in 2002 when he worked for elephant conservation and human-elephant conflict mitigation in the eastern plains. He participated in a biodiversity assessment in the Cardamom Mountains, developed and prepared the management plan for the Southern and Central Cardamoms Protected Forest and for Preah Vihear Protected forest in

the northern plains of Cambodia. Sothea provided assistance to the National Forest Programme relating to the management, conservation of protected forests and development of ecotourism in Cambodia and in preparation and establishment of protected forests to enhance habitat and healthy ecosystem for conservation of biodiversity and livelihood of local community and climate change mitigation and adaption

43


The Babbler 45 (Jan - Mar) 2013

STAFF NEWS

Thou Veasna

I Daniel Wilcox

D

aniel Willcox recently joined BirdLIfe Cambodia Programme to work as a Technical Adviser for the Western Siem Pang proposed protected forest project. Prior to this he spent several years surveying for little-known and endangered small mammal species in Vietnam, as well as two short stints conducting conservation research on amphibians and reptiles in India and Australia. Most of Daniel’s experience has been working for a small not-for-profit Vietnamese organisation, where he spent three years developing a conservation research program for pangolins and small carnivores. His interests lie in the conservation of South-east Asian fauna and in producing practical conservation research. He hopes that his experiences of working in isolated, often challenging conditions, and of building capacity in local researchers, will help to further develop the conservation of Western Siem Pang and its suit of globally rare mammal and bird species

n March 2013, Veasna started working for the “Community co-management of terrestrial and freshwater resources on the Srepok River landscape of Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Cambodia” project, which is implemented by the BirdLife Cambodia Programme and People, Resources and Conservation Foundation. As a field coordinator based in Ratanakiri province, Veasna works with local communities to protect the natural resources along the Srepok River and Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary landscape. With a bachelors degree in General Management from Build Bright University, Veasna has nearly 10-year experience in community forestry, participatory land use planning, non-timber forest product crafts enterprise development, livelihoods development, and some in GIS and GPS. He also used to work with several local and International NGOs such as: Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM/Seila) program, Non Timber Forest Products Organization, Development Partnership in Action (DPA), Cambodian NTFP Development Organization (CANDO), and ETEA Foundation for Development and Cooperation

44

The Babbler 45  

Quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina (January - March 2013)

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you