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Sarus Cranes Grus antigone Š Greg Poole

The Babbler

Number 31 - September 2009


Number 31 - September 2009

Together for birds and people

CONTENTS

• Comment - P1 • Features Evaluating, consolidating and sustaining conservation of key sites in the Lower Mekong project

P2

Year 4 report -Integrating Watershed and Biodiversity Management at Chu Yang Sin National Park P3

BirdLife International in Indochina is a subregional programme of the BirdLife Secretarial operating in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. It currently has two offices in the region: Vietnam Programme Office: N6/2+3, Lane 25. Lang Ha. Ba Dinh P.O. Box 89, 6 Dinh Le, Hanoi, Vietnam. Tel: +84 (0043 514890 Cambodia Programme Office: #61B, STreet 386, Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang III, Khan Chamkarmon Phnom Penh, Cambodia Tel/Fax: +85523 993 631 www.birdlifeindochina.org

• Regional News - P8 • IBA News: Strategy and action plan for biodiversity corridor within Kon Ka Kinh - Kon Chu Rang - P16 • Rarest of the rare : Laotian Rock Rat Laonastes aenigmamus - P17 • Project Updates: 2009 Sarus Crane census in Cambodia - P18 CEPF - RIT update - P20

First coordinated White-shouldered Ibis count dramatically increases known population - P22

Last Chance to Save the Saola from Extinction? Meeting in Laos Urges Prompt Action - P24

MacArthur Climate Change Project July-September 2009 - P26

Bengal Floricans in the Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas - P27

Conservation Ecology of Bengal Florican in Cambodia - P29

Strengthening the Natmataung National Park Local Conservation Group Network. - P30

• Publications: Directory of Important Bird Areas in China (Mainland): Key Sites for Conservation.- P31 • Review: Greater Mekong Close Encounters: New species discoveries. - P32

The status and habitat of Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary - P33

A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia. - P34

Climate change, sea-level rise scenarios for Vietnam - P37

Commercial wildlife farms in Vietnam: A problem or solution for conservation? - P38

• • • •

Profile: Hung Man - a man of many talents - P39 Staff News - P40 Photo Spot: Bare-faced Bulbul Pycnonotus hualon - P43 From the Archives - P44


The Babbler 31 - September 2009

BirdLife International in Indochina

Comment

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f you haven’t noticed already The Babbler has changed. Our new Communications Officer Nguyen Huu Mai Phuong has radically changed the appearance of The Babbler and we plan in future issues to introduce further modifications. We would love to receive any feedback from readers. Please email your comments to Phuong@birdlife.org.vn. This third quarter of 2009 saw many staff changes. Our two Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development, Ananda Van Boeyen and Melanie Mott who both brought such life and energy to our offices in Hanoi and Phnom Penh, regrettably both came to the end of their assignments to BirdLife and have now departed. Ananda who was our interim communications officer was able to overlap with Phuong, which helped with producing this issue of The Babbler.

Simon Mahood who has provided excellent backstopping of our projects in Dak Lak and Lam Dong, and lead on the comprehensive field guide review in this issue, was tempted away from us by WWF and the prospect of working to conserve the last Javan Rhinos in Vietnam. Simon and his wife Sarah have re-located to the Cat Loc area and we eagerly await news of the rhino-dung survey and research that we are funding via CEPF. Also leaving us this quarter was Nguyen Duc Tu who was amongst the longest serving members of staff. Tu’s commitment to conservation and his unique perspective were much valued. His special interests in wetlands lead to his involvement in our efforts to try and advance the Ramsar convention in Vietnam and Tu lead on our work at Xuan Thuy National Park. He was involved in a variety of other projects too and he did much to support the recent re-launch of our website. Nina Ksor, who joined us in November 2006 as Field Manager for our project at Chu Yang Sin National Park also left us this quarter. Nina provided day-to-day management and coordination of the project in the field and we are most grateful for her hard work and efforts to implement this challenging project. To all our newly departed staff, we thank them and wish them all every future success in their work. Jonathan C. Eames, Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina

The Babbler is the quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina. This quarter The Babbler was complied by Ananda Van Boeyen, Phuong Nguyen and edited by Jonathan C. Eames, eames@birdlife.org.vn. The views expressed are those of contributors and are not necessarily those of BirdLife International.

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Feature

BirdLife International in Indochina

Evaluating, consolidating and sustaining conservation of key sites in the Lower Mekong

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n order to ensure that biodiversity is protected in perpetuity across large conservation landscapes in the Lower Mekong region, Birdlife International in Indochina is implementing a MacArthur Foundation project entitled Evaluating, consolidating and sustaining conservation of key sites in the Lower Mekong. The purpose of the project is to consolidate conservation investment to-date by the MacArthur Foundation in the priority landscapes of the Lower Mekong through evaluation of the impact of different site conservation approaches, establishment of a framework that monitor’s biodiversity state and pressure to guide future investment at sites, and to distill good practice in site-based conservation, and promoting it among conservation practitioners.

Srepok River in Cambodia Š 3SPN

The MacArthur Foundation and its grantees have believed that working with and strengthening the agencies responsible for protected area management is the most immediate way to impact biodiversity conservation in the Lower Mekong. Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam each benefit from an established protected area system, designated protected areas agencies, and national-level mandates for protecting the areas set aside for conservation. The MacArthur Foundation was one of the early

financial supporters of conservation work in the Lower Mekong. No government in the region has an adequate system in place to ensure sustainable financing of protected areas. this indicates the low priority afforded to protected areas and disregard for protected areas law in that country. In Cambodia and Laos particularly, there remains a widely held expectation on the part of government that donors and NGOs underwrite protected area management and government investment at sites remains limited. In many cases NGOs are running protected areas without the security that official tenure would bring. Have we therefore now come to the end of national governments leading on protected area designation and management? Have we achieved our goal or is the approach of donors and NGOs now outdated in a changed socioeconomic context? To answer these questions, we need to learn lessons from our investments to date, and establish a knowledge base to guide future site-based conservation investments. In particular, we need to identify which conservation approaches provide the best response to the rapidly changing pressures that protected areas face in dynamic societies where new policy directions are promoting incompatible economic developments, such as road developments, cash crop expansion and hydropower dam construction.

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Feature Looking forward, we also need to take advantage of new policy shifts in land ownership and management that are creating opportunities for new approaches to implementing and financing site-based conservation in the Lower Mekong region. This project has four objectives, which are: 1. Develop a framework for evaluating and monitoring the impacts of site-based management and investment at sites; 2. An assessment of the relative success of different approaches to site-based conservation in the Lower Mekong region, and recommendations for good practice; 3. Innovative approaches to, and novel sustainable financing options for, site-based management are piloted; 4.Collaboration and communition are improved among MacArthur Fountion grantees. Through BirdLife’s broad experience in conservation across the region, BirdLife is convinced that the effectiveness of the current approach to conservation in the region should be reviewed, and alternative models piloted. This proposed MacArthur funded project would build on the lessons learnt from the current project, guide future grant giving and provide alternative approaches for conservation in the region. Jonathan C. Eames Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina Looking forward, we also need to take advantage of new policy shifts in land ownership and management that are creating opportunities for new approaches to implementing and financing site-based conservation in the Lower Mekong region.

From left to right: Jonathan C. Eames (Programme Manager of BirdLife International in Indochina), Pham Tuan Anh (Vietnam Programme Manager), Nina Ksor (Chu Yang Sin project Field Manager), Luong Vinh Linh (Chu Yang Sin National Park Director), Huynh Ba Linh (Administrator). This photograph was taken following a presentation to the Consultative Group Meeting of donors at the old national park headquarters on Monday 9 June 2009.

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Feature In June, BirdLife International in Indochina, Vietnam Programme, completed Year 4 of the five year project, Integrating Watershed and Biodiversity Management at Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak Province.

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uring Year 4 the project focused on building capacity of Chu Yang Sin National Park (CYS NP) staff to respond to the most important threats to the integrity of the National Park. A key part of this has been the provision of training in various skills, with a focus on effective law enforcement and community involvement. A series of high quality biodiversity surveys conducted during Year 4 have added substantially to the knowledge of the National Park. Large mammals were surveyed in previously un-surveyed areas of the Park, and surveys were undertaken for birds and herpetiles. It is anticipated that moPe species new for science will be described from the latter survey. Law enforcement activities intensified; the number of patrols each ranger station took part in each quarter doubled over the course of year 4. Patrols have also diversified. Under the regulations for coordinated enforcement, drawn up under the project, highly successful patrols were conducted with staff from Bidoup Nui Ba National Park, Forest Protection Unit, and Environmental Police, amongst others. Monitoring and evaluation of the project became a regular quarterly feature during Year 4. Information was gathered on indicators related to pressures acting on the National Park, capacity to deal with current threats, and biological indicators of the current state of the National Park. Data gathered has demonstrated that the project is having a positive effect on the National Park. Regular awareness activities in the buffer zone also continued throughout Year 4. Nearly 3,000 people took part in various events organised by the Park. Š BirdLife International in Indochina

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Notable achievements of Year 4:

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Component A. Enforcement and Protection:

Component B. Information and Planning:

• Land-use maps for the buffer zone have been produced and distributed to relevant agencies in the buffer zone, to increase the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts and facilitate cooperation.

• Surveys focused on improving knowledge of poorly known groups such as herpetiles and birds, and species most at risk from hunting: the large ungulates and primates. A number of regionally important records were made during the survey, including an Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster.

• Violations are now routinely recorded, and patrol routes mapped quarterly, both using GPS systems. • Support has been provided to pilot livelihood improvement models, focusing on rattan enrichment planting, aimed at reducing the pressure on scarce forest resources. • No logging of Fokenia hodginsii was recorded during the year, in the monitoring plots. However, there have been regular reports of intense logging activity during the year, presumably in locations away from the better patrolled monitoring plots. • The illegal wildlife and timber trade network around Chu Yang Sin National Park report was published, and distributed to relevant stakeholders in the project area. The report includes recommendations of actions through which park staff can work with staff at district and provincial levels to reduce pressure on the national park. The report can be downloaded here.

An Oriental Darter Anhinga melanogaster. © Jonathan C. Eames

• A mammal survey was conducted, which confirmed that CYS NP still supports a good population of globally threatened primates such as Black-shanked Douc Langur Pygathrix nemaeus and Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae, as well as ungulates such as Gaur Bos gaurus. Notable records included the first confirmed record of Owston’s Palm Civet Chrotogale owstoni for the park. • Eleven camera traps were installed. To date nine species of mammal have been recorded, most notably Giant Muntjac Muntiacus vuquangensis. This is not only the first confirmed record for the National Park, but the first time that this species has been photographed alive in a wild state in Vietnam. • Joint patrols have been extremely successful. Over three days in January 2009 a joint patrol team arrested ten illegal hunters, destroyed two hunting camps with furnaces for making Cao (wildlife bone glue) and an illegal sawmill, and confiscated two guns,, more than 300 snare-traps, and a large quantity of animal bone and meat.

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Feature Component C. Public Awareness

Component D. Capacity Building

• The awareness team received training from communication consultants Pan Nature and passed on their new skills to rangers in a series of internal training workshops.

• As well as training in general enforcement and patrolling, some rangers received training in handling people who have been found to be violating forest protection laws, and others received training in dealing with cases related to protected species. Rangers also continued to learn ethnic minority languages to facilitate their work with buffer zone residents.

• The awareness team designed and produced 3,000 calendars in six designs for distribution to buffer zone relatives at the beginning of 2009. A large signboard was built and the awareness team were involved in the design. • VTV2 made a short film about the National Park. In addition, film crews have visited the national park to obtain footage, which was aired on VTV2 as part of a television programme about Vietnamese national parks.

©Chu Yang Sin images library © BirdLife International in Indochina

• The project made history, commissioning a professional photographer to take some of the first photos of this unique park. The photos will be used for communication materials, such as brochures, scientific reports, and the CYS NP website. They will also form part of a CYS NP photographic library. Many are featured in this article!

• A study tour to Khao Yai and Doi Inthannon National Parks, in Thailand was conducted. This was attended by park management staff, and district and provincial level staff from the area surrounding the national park. Participants met with Thai park managers and witnessed alternative models for forest protection and ecotourism. This study tour provided useful lessons related to forest conservation and management. • The capacity of 167 commune level staff to deal with fire was increased through a training workshop on fire prevention and control run by national park staff.

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Feature

Component E. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) • New transects and plots were set up for biological monitoring, to enable effective monitoring of rates of illegal hunting and logging. • To enable park management staff to detect patterns of forest loss in the buffer zone, staff received training in fixed point photo monitoring. Monitoring of 14 locations in the buffer zone took place quarterly. In Year 5 the project will support the purchase of SPOT 5 images from 2005 and 2009 to further analyse patterns of forest cover change in the buffer zone. • The Monitoring and Evaluation Tracker Tool demonstrates an increase in management effectives. Accordingly, project activities have increased the capacity of the national park to deal with current threats, and consequently the overall score of the national park increased from 58% to 64%.

Year five objectives and plans include the development of a communications strategy and programme aimed at high-level decision makers, up until 2015, including implementation of the programme for year 5. An assessment of threats and management opportunities and challenges associated with the construction of the East Truong Son Highway and a surfaced patrol route through the national park will be implemented by an expert consultant firm. This will lead to the production of communication materials and will facilitate the intimate involvement of the national park management in the planning process. Other activities include a Park Conservation Management Plan, a follow-up survey of the illegal wildlife and timber trade surrounding Chu Yang Sin National Park, and a high-level publication showcasing CYS NP, detailing all biological and social data gathered during the project. Watch this space for regular updates.

© BirdLife International in Indochina

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Greater Mekong Climate Change Adaptation agreement: a world’s first in the making.

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sia’s first climate change adaptation agreement was the focus of a recent meeting held in Bangkok, convened on July 22 by WWF Greater Mekong Programme, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia. Enhancing Regional Integration in the Greater Mekong, the opportunity for Asia’s first Regional Climate Change Adaptation agreement, brought together 32 senior representatives from the leading regional organisations to explore ways to secure government commitment for a regional climate change adaptation agreement, the first of its kind in the world. “Climate change should be considered a symptom of unsustainable development,” said the Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia (SENSA) in their opening statement to the meeting. The Greater Mekong subregion is one of the fastest growing economic regions in the world. It is also one of the richest in terms of biodiversity. The region’s relative wealth of natural resources has powered its rapid economic and social development. But the uncertainties of climate change place this development under increasing threat. Participants to the meeting included representatives from the Asian Development Bank, the Secretariat of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Biodiversity Centre, AusAID, the European Union, the FAO, IUCN, the Mekong River

Regional News

Commission, Southeast Asia Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training (START), Stockholm Environment Institute and US-AID. During the meeting the participants identified several benefits of a regional agreement such as; improved regional coordination and cooperation, providing a platform to discuss trans-boundary issues, and strengthened management of trans-boundary or shared natural resources. Peter King from the Institute for Global Environment Strategies emphasised the urgent need for regional cooperation within a formal agreement. He said ‘business as usual’ in the absence of any agreement was no longer an option. However, some participants questioned the need for a regional agreement saying that sufficient national legislation already exists, and that the problem is with implementation and enforcement. A significant opportunity identified was the engagement of China in the region. China’s “Going Global” policy, which includes guidelines on outward investments, and their interest in working with ASEAN, were seen as possibilities to actively engage China in a regional climate change adaptation agreement. Overall perspectives on a regional climate change adaptation agreement varied from supporters, through neutral, to a few opponents. At the day’s end, all participants agreed that regional cooperation would be a positive step and affirmed that the issue needs to be explored further.

© WWF Greater Mekong Programme Stuart Chapman, Director of the WWF Greater Mekong Programme, presents experience from WWF’s the Heart of Borneo programme during the brainstorming workshop.

For more information, including regional environment agreements, please visit: WWF website Source: http://www.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/vietnam/news/?171621/Greater-Mekong-Climate-Change-Adaptation-agreement-a-worlds-firstin-the-making

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Saving the last of Vietnam’s Tigers

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BirdLife International in Indochina

Regional News

workshop was held 2nd October in Hanoi, with the main focus to obtain comments and feedback from international and national experts to finalise the National Report on Tiger Conservation, in preparation for the Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop in Nepal, 27 to 30 October.

Goals for tiger conservation in Vietnam

The Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development, Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (Vietnam National University, Hanoi), and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, have prepared a National strategy for tiger conservation in Viet Nam. Here, we summarise key points from the document.

• For all captive populations of tigers in Vietnam to be actively supporting the conservation of wild tigers in Vietnam;

• To have increasing tiger populations in selected landscapes and protected areas;

• The illegal exploitation and use of tigers, tiger products and their prey is effectively controlled;

The Indochinese tiger Panthera tigris corbetii is the only subspecies of tiger naturally • To have an operational system monitoring wild tiger populations at distributed in Vietnam. There has been no comprehensive tiger census ever undertaken key sites, the conservation outcomes of captive tiger breeding in the country. Estimations based on interview data carried out by forest rangers put operations, and the illegal trade in tigers, tiger products and tiger prey; the population at between 50-150 individuals, though many scientists believe this to be • The demand for tigers in traditional medicine products is replaced an overestimation. Confirmed tiger records are sparse but reports indicate that the wild with a demand for tigers in the wild. tiger’s persist in remote forest in the Central Annamites, Central highlands and border areas of Vietnam-Laos and Vietnam-Cambodia. Populations of wild tiger in Viet Nam have experienced a rapid decline in the last two decades due to a high demand on tiger Hanoi, Vietnam 16 July 2009 - Environment parts for traditional medicine, destruction of tiger habitat and the increasingly decline of Police apprehended a taxi driver trafficking a tiger prey species. frozen tiger. ©Vnexpress.net Tigers have been prohibited from use and exploitation for almost 50 years in Vietnam, yet the illegal trade driven by very high profits available has overcome the limited resources invested in protecting tigers, their habitat and prey. All recent cases of illegal tiger trade have involved tigers imported from other countries for consumption in Vietnam or transiting to other end use destination. The turning point Illegal hunting and trade in tiger parts are nearly always the key factors that leads to the extinction of tiger populations. In addition, long-held traditions of using tiger products for medicinal treatments are another obstacle that maintains the trade in tiger parts. Therefore any successful tiger conservation plan will depend on the effective management of illegal trade and changing long-held beliefs.

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Saving the last of Viet nam’s Tigers (cont’d)

© Kim Atkinson Tigers choking a chital, cub circling 815x1115 mm Mono print The turning point for tiger conservation in Vietnam will only be achieved with good wildlife trade law enforcement requiring better coordination between the police, forest rangers, and customs agencies. A better legal framework including penal codes for wildlife crime requires proper formulation and implementation. This must cover captive management and rearing of tigers. This will require a strong government lead to accomplish. ----------Source: The above text was taken from the National Input Document on Tiger Conservation. Prepared by The Forest Protection Department (MARD)/ CITES MA, and Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES)/CITES SA, and Biodiversity Conservation Agency (MONRE)

Regional News Discovery of ten new specimens of Largebilled Reed Warbler provides new insights

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recent paper published in the Journal of Avian Biology (volume 69, Issue 6), has reported on the findings of ten new specimens of the poorly known large-billed reed warbler Acrocephalus orinus. Authors Lars Svensson, Robert Prŷs-Jones, Pamela C. Rasmussen and Urban Olsson, made preliminary identifications on the basis of bill, tarsus and claw measurements, and their specific identity was then confirmed by comparison of partial sequences of the cytochrome b gene with a large data set containing nearly all other species in the genus Acrocephalus, including the type specimen of A. orinus. Five of the new specimens were collected in summer in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, indicating that the species probably breeds in central Asia, and the data and moult of the others suggest that the species migrates along the Himalayas to winter in north India and South-east Asia. The population structure suggests a stable or shrinking population. ---------------Source: Svensson, L., Prys-Jones, R., Rasmussen, P. C. and Olsson, U. (2008) Discovery of ten new specimens of large-billed reed warbler Acrocephalus orinus, and new insights into its distributional range. Journal of Avian Biology 39 (6): 605-610. ---------Photo credit: Kshounish Sankar Ray http://orientalbirdimages.org

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Climate agreement at risk of subsidizing logging of primary rainforests

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lobal Witness: The post-Kyoto United Nations climate agreement currently being negotiated in Bangkok is at risk of subsidizing industrial scale logging of primary forests, according to Trick or Treat?: REDD, Development and Sustainable Forest Management, a briefing paper released today by Global Witness, a leading environmental NGO, with over 15 years experience in exposing the corrupt exploitation of natural resources, including logging and international timber trade. Without good governance and a focus on protecting intact natural forests rather than the forest industry, any climate agreement has little chance of addressing the nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions that stem from the destruction of tropical forests.

According to the paper, the introduction of the term “sustainable forest management” (SFM) in the negotiating text of the climate agreement’s forest component, called REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries) will ultimately undermine its effective implementation. “The term ‘sustainable forest management’ has been co-opted by the forest industry to improve its image without actually changing the logging practices that are currently destroying the world’s remaining tropical forests,” said Dr. Rosalind Reeve of Global Witness. SFM is a poorly-defined term that in practice has included industrial scale logging in intact natural (primary) forests. In addition to being a major source of carbon emissions, industrial logging has failed

Regional News to bring meaningful development benefits to forest communities or to provide lasting economic benefits to tropical forest-rich countries. Moreover, so-called “sustainable” logging dramatically increases the likelihood that a forest will be entirely converted to other land uses. Inclusion of loopholes such as SFM within the scope of REDD would allow industrial logging to continue with business-as-usual practices and even to be funded by the very mechanism that is supposed to stop this destruction. The industrial scale logging supported by SFM has proven to be difficult if not impossible to regulate since most countries which stand to benefit from REDD suffer from poor legal frameworks, weak enforcement, and corruption involving political elites and the logging industry. “REDD needs to support alternatives to industrialscale logging that protect forest carbon and ecosystems and provide equitable, lasting and sustainable development benefits,” said Reeve. “But corruption and mismanagement will sabotage REDD, so good governance must underpin the whole system without it, REDD will fail.” ---------Source: Global Witness (2009) Trick or Treat? REDD, Development and Sustainable Forest Management. Global Witness.

© Global Witness

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Vietnam outsources deforestation to neighboring countries

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ongabay.com, September 2, 2009: Taking a cue from its much larger neighbor to the north, Vietnam has outsourced deforestation to neighboring countries, according to a new study that quantified the amount of displacement resulting from restrictions on domestic logging. Like China, Vietnam has experienced a resurgence in forest cover over the past twenty years, largely as a result a forestry policies that restricted timber harvesting and encouraged the development of processing industries that turned raw log imports into finished products for export. These measures contributed to a 55 percent increase of Vietnam’s forests between 1992 and 2005, while bolstering the country’s stunning economic growth.

Regional News

emissions by reducing deforestation and degradation (REDD). The authors say that in Vietnam’s case, where illicit deforestation in neighboring countries has fueled domestic economic growth, leakage is particularly complex. Should Vietnam be penalised for illegal forest clearing in Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia? If so, should it also receive carbon credits for the carbon stored in the wood products it exports? Or should the carbon emissions burden ultimately fall on the consumer, likely a furniture buyer in an industrialised country?

Source: http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0902vietnam.html http://www.pnas.org/content/106/38/16139. short?rss=1 Meyfroidt, P., & Lambin, E.F. (2009). Forest transition in Vietnam and displacement of deforestation abroad. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/ pnas.0904942106

But the environmental benefit of the increase in Vietnam’s forest cover is deceptive; it has came at the expense of forests in Laos, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Authors Patrick Meyfroidt and Eric F. Lambin of the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium calculate that 39 percent of Vietnam’s forest regrowth between 1987 and 2006 was effectively logged in other countries, and that approximately half of wood imports to Vietnam during this period were illegal. “Vietnam protected its forests and developed its economy by exporting its deforestation to neighboring countries,” the authors write, noting that the apparent “leakage” — an increase in deforestation in one region caused by reduction of deforestation in another — is “a major challenge in policies aimed at protecting forests and mitigating carbon emissions”. Indeed, international leakage has been a chief concern under a proposed mechanism for mitigating greenhouse gas

Change in primary forest, total forest, and plantation cover in Vietnam between 1990 and 2005, using FAO data

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Regional News Vietnam outsources deforestation to neighboring countries (cont’d) The authors don’t take a position, but they do argue that any REDD mechanism will need to somehow account for leakage. “When policies, such as this may be implemented through a REDD scheme—aimed at protecting forests lead to a decrease in harvests without accompanying measures to control wood consumption and/or increase wood production from plantations and processing efficiency, then leakage abroad will most likely occur,” the authors write. “Leakage should thus be directly addressed in forest protection policies.” But there is another twist in the story for Vietnam should it seek compensation via a REDD scheme for regrowing its forests. While the country has seen a dramatic recovery in net forest cover, its primary cover has been dramatically reduced. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation Vietnam lost a staggering 78 percent of its old-growth forests between 1990 and 2005. Given that old-growth forests store more carbon than plantations and regenerating secondary forests, the emissions resulting from the transition from old to new forests have been substantial. This raises another question: should logging of oldgrowth forests in Vietnam continue, whether legal or illegal, will emissions from this degradation be figured into a REDD compensation scheme?

Understanding the phylogeographic structure within Indo-Malayan species

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ur understanding of the geographic patterns of gene flow between populations of birds in the IndoMalayan faunal region is surprisingly poor compared with that in other parts of the world. A thorough knowledge of general patterns of phylogeographic structure is, however, of utmost importance for conservation purposes.

onomy does not adequately reflect the amount of genetic variation within S. ochracea, as the great majority of genetic variation was nested within the nominal subspecies, which is distributed from Nepal to southern Vietnam.

Main conclusions of analyses revealed that S. ochracea is composed of at least five lineages that are strongly correlated with geography: south A paper published in the Journal of Biogeography Vietnam (South Annam and ‘Cochinchina’), India entitled Mitochondrial phylogeographic and Nepal, Myanmar and India, the remainder structure of the White-browed piculet Sasia of Indochina, and probably southern Myanmar ochracea: cryptic genetic differentiation and (Tenasserim). The analyses indicated a very endemism in Indochina, has stated that species limited amount of ongoing gene flow between with poor dispersal capabilities could serve as these five lineages. Dating analyses suggested indicators of endemism and genetic isolation in that the genetic structuring probably occurred the Indochinese subregion. The paper suggests during the last 400,000 years. The paper strongly that from their morphology (tiny size, short tail, recommends that studies aiming to understand short and rounded wings), piculets of the genus the phylogeographic structure within IndoSasia are inferred to have poor dispersal Malayan species sample these areas. capabilities, and thus form a suitable focal species. -------------Source: Fuchs, J., Ericson, P. G. P., Ericson and The paper presented results of analysis of the Pasquet, E. (2008) Mitochondrial pattern of genetic variation within the Whitephylogeographic structure of the white-browed browed Piculet. Authors Fuchs, Ericson and piculet (Sasia ochracea): cryptic genetic Pasquet, sampled 43 individuals throughout the differentiation and endemism in Indochina. breeding range of S. ochracea. The analysis of Journal of Biogeography Volume 31:3: 565 - 575 molecular variance indicated that the current tax-

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A conservation tragedy for the Endangered banteng in Vietnam

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recent paper on Banteng Bos javancus birmanicus has assessed the status and distribution of the species in Vietnam, claiming that the species is likely to be extinct in Vietnam in the near future.

The paper entitled Status and distribution of the Endangered banteng Bos javanicus birmanicus in Vietnam: a conservation tragedy, published in Flora and Fauna International Journal Oryx (volume 24 issue 4) presents the results of field surveys conducted

Female banteng with calf

from January 2005 to December 2007 in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam. The paper stated that the population of banteng in Vietnam is estimated to be 74–103. It has declined by at least 50% since the mid-1990s and the species is likely to go extinct in Vietnam in the near future. Remaining herds are small, although recruitment still exists. Large portions of the species’ range in the early 1990s are no longer occupied and the maximum area of occupancy of the species in Vietnam is c. 2,670 km².

Regional News According to the paper only five disconnected populations persist (Chu Prong, Yok Don, Ea So, Krong Trai and Dong Phu). The most important are in Yok Don National Park (30–44 individuals) and Ea So Nature Reserve (23–31). However, surveys suggest that these populations are exposed to risks of disease outbreak and will only be viable if there is active management to facilitate recovery. In Chu Mom Ray, Dak R’Lap, Nam Nung, Ta Dung, Bu Dang, Nam Cat Tien, Bi Doup Nui Ba, Cat Loc, Nui Ong and Bu Gia Map, the banteng is now locally extinct, although it was still present there in the early 1990s. Interviews carried out at the survey sites indicated that banteng were present until the early 1990s in all these sites but that they were poached to extinction within the last decade. Interviews also indicated that the status of banteng in Vietnam is determined by commercial poaching in response to demand for trophies. The paper suggests that future conservation actions need to target poor governance, the root cause of banteng decline, which precludes effective management of protected areas in Vietnam and places several species of large mammals at risk of extinction nationally. ------------Pedrono, M., Ha Minh Tuan, Chouteau, P. and Vallejo, F. (2009) Status and distribution of the Endangered banteng Bos javanicus birmanicus in Vietnam: A conservation tragedy. Oryx 43 (4): 618625.

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Regional News

Illegal wildlife trade on political agenda in Vietnam

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a Noi, Viet Nam, 12 August—The Central Committee for Communication and Education (CCCE), a body that advises Vietnam’s Communist Party, met with representatives from international conservation groups TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, WWF, and IUCN, the World Conservation Union to discuss raising awareness about the illegal wildlife trade and its impact on the conservation of Vietnam’s natural resources. Rising consumer demand is driving a lucrative, but often illegal and unsustainable trade in wild plant and animal products in Vietnam, threatening the country’s incredible biodiversity. With many endemic and threatened species on the verge of extinction, the Government of Vietnam is increasing its commitment to combat the illegal trade. The two day workshop provided an opportunity for diverse stakeholders to discuss the illegal wildlife, bringing the country one step closer to a solution. It is the first time an advising body to the Vietnam Communist Party has been directly involved in efforts to raise awareness of the illegal wildlife trade nationwide. James Compton, TRAFFIC Asia-Pacific Programme Coordinator, said, “The recognition by an advising body to the highest levels of the Vietnam Communist Party that Vietnam needs a unified front to combat illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade practices demonstrates the kind of commitment needed for the country to conserve its unique heritage for future generations.” The collaboration comes at a critical juncture in Vietnam’s economic development as many key stakeholders from the government and private sector appreciate that the security of the natural environment is essential to securing Vietnam’s long-term economic foundations. -----------Source: http://www.traffic.org/home/2009/8/12/illegal-wildlife-traderises-up-the-political-agenda-in-viet.html

Chanh and Canh at the court on July 2. © Vietnamnet

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he People’s Court in Ninh Hoa District, Khanh Hoa Province, Viet Nam, sentenced two men to a total of four years and six months in prison, for killing two Black-shanked Douc Langurs Pygathrix nigripes, an Endangered species, found only in north-eastern Cambodia and southern Vietnam.

Two men given prison sentences for killing langurs transporting the bodies of the four animals back to Ninh Hoa town. This is the first time Ninh Hoa district has prosecuted a wildlife hunting case.

From December 2007 to May 2009, the local media reported four cases of killing 14 Blackshanked Douc Langurs in Khanh Hoa province. Previously, Cam Lam district’s On July 2, the court sentenced Phan Van court, also of Khan Hoa Province, sentenced Chanh, 31, to 30 months in jail, and Le Minh three men to a total of 9 years and 9 months Canh, 36, to 24 months, for violating laws on in jail, and fine of 8 million dong for killing the protection of rare wild animals. five langurs at the Hon Ba Nature Reserve, According to investigators, the two men went Khanh district, Khanh Hoa Province on hunting in Hon Heo forest, where they met a March 9, 2009. It is hoped that these troop of langurs. Mr. Chanh shot to death the penalties will prevent further acts of wildlife two langurs, and together they crime. disemboweled the langurs in order to keep them from decomposing quickly. They then ---------------stole two domestic goats. The two were Source: http://english.vietnamnet.vn/ caught in the act on while they were tech/2009/07/856043/

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Important Bird Area News Strategy and action plan for biodiversity corridor within Kon Ka Kinh National Park and Kon Cha Rang Nature Reserve

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irdLife International In Indochina designed a project for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) targeting the long-term conservation of two IBAs in the central highlands in Vietnam.

The goal of the GEF Project is to establish a foundation of support and management to maintain the biological integrity and connectivity of the Kon Ka Kinh National Park and Kon Chu Rang Nature Reserve by 2010, thereby ensuring the long-term conservation of the unique biological attributes of the Central Annamites Priority Landscape. To this end the project endeavours to maintain and improve the cover, condition, and biodiversity of forestlands and associated ecosystems in the two protected areas, and in the connecting forestlands within the Tram Lap and Dak Roong State Forestry Companies (ex State Forest Enterprises), through a proposed Biodiversity Corridor. The medium sized GEF/UNDP (Global Environment Facility / United Nations Development Programme) project, entitled Making the Link: The Connection and Sustainable Management of Kon Ka Kinh National Park and Kon Cha Rang Nature Reserve key aims to establish connectivity between the two protected areas through bringing intervening forests, currently allocated by the province to two SFCs (State Forestry Companies), but also containing villages of ethnic minority people, under a management regime that emphasises the maintenance of biodiversity values.

ŠPhoto credit: Zenith Phuong

An emerging legal framework for the establishment of a Biodiversity Corridor (a designated area that connects protected areas with each other and with habitat outside protected areas that are important for biodiversity conservation) has enabled the project to pursue the development of this new and innovative form of landscape management. The Action Plan 2009-2015 is designed to establish a corridor with a strictly protected core area of 4,465.5 ha. This area will be supplemented by a further zone within which forestry operations and community off-take are managed to support the objectives of the biodiversity corridor. This additional ‘biodiversity management zone’ is 6,395.2 ha, giving a total functional area of the corridor of 10,860.7 ha (40.5% of the total area of the SFCs). The Action Plan identifies, schedules and indicates the required budget for 15 actions leading to the establishment, sustainable financing, and initial operations of the corridor up to 2015. The priority activity is to establish a Biodiversity Corridor Operation Committee, with the head of the committee appointed from either DoNRE (Department of Natural Resources and the Environment - provincial level) or DARD (Department of Agricultural and Rural Development - Provincial level), and with members representing all involved stakeholders.

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BirdLife International in Indochina

he Laotian rock rat or Kha-nyou Laonastes aenigmamus, is a rodent species believed to be endemic to the Khammouan region of Laos, although it may yet be found in the Phong Nha Ke Bang karst massif in central Vietnam. The species was first described in 2005 by Paulina Jenkins and coauthors, who considered the animal to be so distinct from all living rodents that they placed it in a new family, Laonastidae2. In 2006 the classification of the Laotian rock rat was disputed by Dawson and coauthors. Dawson and her colleagues suggested that instead it belongs to the ancient fossil family Diatomyidae, that was thought to have been extinct for 11 million years, since the late Miocene1. The species is considered globally Endangered. The photographs in this article, taken on 24 Augusut 2009, are of one of three captive individuals currently kept in the garden of Mr. John Boatman, in Vientiane, Laos, who we thank for granting us permsiion to photograph the animals.

Rarest of the Rare

1. Dawson, M.R., Marivaux, L., Li, C-k., Beard, K.C. and Métais, G. (2006) Laonastes and the “Lazarus effect” in Recent mammals. Science 311: 1456-1458 2. Jenkins, Paulina D., Kilpatrick, C. William, Robinson, Mark F. and Timmins, Robert J. 2004) Morphological and molecular investigations of a new family, genus and species of rodent (Mammalia: Rodentia: Hystricognatha) from Lao PDR. Systematics and Biodiversity 2(4): 419-454

© Jonathan C. Eames.

Laotian Rock Rat Laonastes aenigmamus

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BirdLife International in Indochina

2009 Sarus Crane census in Cambodia

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ince 2001, a coordinated census of Sarus Cranes Grus antigone has been held each year in the late dry season in Cambodia and Viet Nam. BirdLife International in Indochina, Cambodia Programme, has been working with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Forestry Administration, to assess the population levels and distribution of Sarus Cranes in Cambodia. Here, we report on the results of the Cambodia part of the dry season census for 2009. As done in 2008 for the first time, the coordinated counts were also conducted in the early and mid dry season to examine crane movements between sites within the dry season.

As in previous years Ang Trapeang Thmor and Kampong Trach held the majority of the late dry season population in Cambodia (88%). A significant part of the Indochinese population spends the non-breeding season in southern Vietnam and birds move freely back and forth across the border. Until the census results from there have been incorporated it is not possible to draw conclusions about the status of the population as a whole.

Project Updates cranes). There is however a lot of variation between years and similar numbers were recorded at Ang Trapeang Thmor in January 2007 (115 cranes). The February and March counts both found 455 cranes, although the number of cranes at each site differed between the two time periods. In previous years the number of cranes using the key wetlands included in the census increased towards the end of the dry season. There was a less dramatic move towards Ang Trapeang Thmor this year, possibly due to temporary unsuitability of the habitat there coupled with less acute drought than usual at alternative wetland sites.

Unusually, the highest count in Cambodia this year was in January with a total of 562 cranes, which is around 38% higher than the total counted in January 2008 and only 15% less than the 2008 peak (March) count for Cambodia. It is also the second highest total Three censuses were conducted in 2009. The most important was the late-dry season census as this count count for Cambodia since 2001 (March 2008 being the Conservation threats to several of the Cambodian sites continue to grow rapidly, primarily due to agricultural highest). has been conducted on an annual basis since 2001. expansion and land speculation. At Ang Trapeang Cranes were recorded at six of the eight sites counted Thmor, a key wetland site, it is as yet unknown what during 25-30 March 2009, with a total of 455, which is In January cranes were concentrated at a different the impact on Sarus Cranes may be from irrigation group of sites: Tonle Sap Grasslands, Boeung Prek around 30% less than last year’s count for Lapouv and Ang Trapeang Thmor (92%). A far larger channels that were built this year, for the future Cambodia. number of cranes was counted at Ang Trapeang Thmor cultivation of dry season rice downstream of the in January 2009 (147 cranes) than in January 2008 (18 reservoir.

Š Jonathan C. Eames.

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2009 Sarus Crane census in Cambodia

Project Updates

(cont’d)

Recommendations: • Continue the three censuses each year at all sites. Continue counts at Koh Thom for one more year if feasible. Try to include several other minor sites (e.g. Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary and Sre Ambel). • A study should be initiated on the ecology of Sarus Cranes, distribution based on changes in environmental conditions, and movement patterns between breeding and non-breeding areas. Such knowledge would help identify other important wetlands on the Sarus Crane’s migration route, identify key variables that might affect Sarus Crane distribution and make it possible to integrate measurement of such variables into the monitoring program, as well as providing site managers with vital information on what resources are most important for Sarus Cranes. • Develop reliable sampling methods for counting juvenile cranes, since a full census of juveniles done at the same time as the main census seems likely to experience unacceptable errors. It may be best to set up a separate system of sample counts using telescopes at a few key sites that hold a large and mostly aggregated portion of the population, for example, at Ang Trapeang Thmor and Kampong Trach. • Conservation recommendations are beyond the scope of this report, but it is clearly important to assess the environmental impact of downstream irrigation projects on the Ang Trapeang Thmor wetland and implement mitigation measures if necessary. ----------The Sarus Crane ranges from India to Australia and has been classified as Globally Threatened (Vulnerable). It was once distributed throughout mainland South-East Asia, but has undergone a severe decline over the past 50 years through habitat loss and hunting, and is now restricted to parts of Cambodia, extreme southern Laos, southern Vietnam and parts of Myanmar. Tom Evans -Wildlife Conservation Society, Cambodia Program Robert van Zalinge- Wildlife Conservation Society, Cambodia Program Hong Chamnan - Wildlife Protection Office, Forestry Administration Seng Kim Hout - Birdlife International in Indochina, Cambodia Programme © Photo Credit:Jonathan C. Eames.

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Project Updates

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CEPF Regional Implementation Team econd Call for Letters of Inquiry Closed

On 11 September 2009, the second call for Letters of Inquiry (LoIs) to CEPF in Indochina closed after a three month window. More than half of the 99 LoIs were submitted by national civil society organisations. Overall, 63 applications were for small grants and 36 for large grants. Cambodia saw the most applications submitted with 42 LoIs, followed by Vietnam with 23, Lao P.D.R with 12, and Thailand with eight. In addition, 14 multicountry LoIs were submitted. Review of these LoIs started immediately. Four large and four more small grants made in the region.

So far, 170 applications have been made to CEPF in Indochina. Twenty two grants have been approved, with eight grants to projects in Cambodia, eight to Vietnam, one to Lao P.D.R., one to Thailand, and four to projects working in more than one country. In the third quarter of 2009, four more large grants were contracted bringing the total number of large funded projects to six so far. In total, more than $2 million has now been granted in just over a year. All new large grants this period were for Vietnam: The Center for People and Nature Reconciliation (The Center for People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) was granted over US$100,000 for a project entitled “Raising Concerns – Reducing Impacts: Providing Inputs to Local Development Policies Related to Biodiversity and Natural

Resources through Engaging the Media.” Through this project, in the next three years PanNature will promote sustainable development and good governance in the Northern Highlands Limestone corridor of Vietnam, by engaging the media to investigate the impacts of development policies and projects on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and give a greater voice to local community views. The project will organize field-based trainings for journalists, support them to undertake regular investigative missions, and disseminate the findings through national and local media and a policy workshop. It is expected that this project will help ongoing on-the-ground conservation efforts in the Northern Highlands Limestone to reconcile biodiversity conservation and development objectives.

Project launching ceremony “Assessment of the status and distribution of globally threatened plant species in Indochina”. Photo: MBG

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Project Updates CEPF-RIT feature Education for Nature-Vietnam (ENV) will receive more than US$160,000 to carry out activities “Strengthening Public Participation in Tackling the Wildlife Trade in Vietnam” for two years. ENV aims to further mobilise the Vietnamese public to participate in efforts to tackle the wildlife trade, and encourage and support enforcement by government agencies, by building capacity within their national wildlife trade hotline programme, developing their national volunteer network, and securing longerterm financing. This project will provide overarching support to CEPF-funded efforts in the region to secure priority globally threatened species from overexploitation and illegal trade. Almost US$100,000 was approved for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to mainstream biodiversity into development planning in the Northern Highlands Limestone corridor, by identifying policy issues and options, initiating dialogue between local government and other stakeholders on alternative development scenarios in two pilot provinces (Bac Kan and Tuyen Quang), building relationships with local government and civil society in three other provinces within the corridor, and enhancing the role of Thai Nguyen University as a regional information hub. Complementing ENV efforts to engage the public in tackling largely retail trade of wildlife in Vietnam, the Wildlife Conservation Society will develop an integrated program of training, outreach and

(cont.)

awareness raising for relevant local and national law enforcement agencies in Vietnam, in order to tackle the burning issue of illegal large-scale crossborder trade of wildlife from Vietnam to China. Wildlife Conservation Society was granted just over US$100,000 to implement this project over two years. In this quarter, BirdLife International in Indochina, acting as the CEPF-Regional Implementation Team in Indochina, approved four more small grant applications, bringing the total number of funded projects under this small grant programme to fifteen so far. Two of these recently funded conservation projects were in Vietnam, one in Lao P.D.R and one in Thailand. Three of them relate to species conservation activities: the first meeting of the Saola Working Group in Vientiane (IUCN – Lao Country Programme), development of educational materials on the Tonkin Snub-Nosed Monkey in Northern Vietnam (Center for People and Nature Reconciliation) and assessing the taxonomic validity of Lowe’s Otter Civet (Wildlife Conservation Society). Thai Fund Foundation received the fourth new grant, in order to ensure that Thai civil society is effectively involved with CEPF implementation in Thailand. Progress of Funded Projects In June, the University of East Anglia, which received a grant to study the conservation ecology of White-Shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni and

local livelihoods in Cambodia, was in the news with record-breaking figures twice this quarter. For further information please read First coordinated White-shouldered Ibis count dramatically increases known population. From 19 to 21 August, the IUCN - Lao Country Programme hosted the first meeting of the Saola Working Group in Vientiane, Lao PDR, bringing in conservation biologists from four countries to address the threat of extinction facing one the world’s most enigmatic mammals, the Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis. For further information please read Last Chance to Save the Saola from Extinction? Meeting in Laos Urges Prompt Action. Later in the middle of September, Missouri Botanical Garden, one of the first two large grantees in the region organised a launch and training workshop for the project “Assessment of the Status and Distribution of Globally Threatened Plant Species in Indochina” in Hanoi. Over sixty botanists, scientists and representatives from research institutions, non-governmental organisations and government agencies in six countries attended the event. Besides project review and working planning, useful training was provided on how to apply global Red List Categories and Criteria, and how to access and use the MBG Tropicos database and IUCN Species Information Service (SIS).

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Project Updates

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or the first time a nationwide coordinated count of the Critically Endangered White-shouldered Ibis Pseudibis davisoni has been carried out in Cambodia. 310 individuals were found, making it the largest count of White-shouldered Ibis ever, and providing evidence that the world population of the species is larger than previously thought.

First coordinated White-shouldered Ibis count dramatically increases known population In July, the University of East Anglia (UEA), in cooperation with BirdLife International in Indochina, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), with support from the Forestry Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (FA and MAFF), and the General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection, Ministry of Environment (GDANCP and MoE), surveyed four sites in Cambodia, to better understand the species. Funding for this work was provided by the BirdLife/Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the British Ornithologists’ Union, the Global Environment Facility, United Nations Development Program, and the Angkor Centre for the Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB). A total of 310 individuals was counted at four sites, comprising: Western Siem Pang Important Bird Area, Stung Treng province; Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces; Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, Preah Vihear province; and the “central section” of the Mekong River, a 56 km stretch between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces. The 2009 IUCN Red List estimates that the world population of the White-shouldered Ibis is no more than 249 mature individuals, and possibly as low as 50. UEA PhD student Hugh Wright, who has been leading White-shouldered Ibis research for 18 months, said, “This is the first time we have achieved a reliable minimum figure for the population size of White-shouldered Ibis in Cambodia. The recent count means the population is almost certainly larger than the IUCN estimate of 50-249 mature individuals, however there is a good chance that the population is even larger than 310 because we expect to find more roost sites and count more birds.”

© Jonathan C. Eames.

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Project Updates First coordinated White-shouldered Ibis count dramatically increases known population (cont’d) “Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the population has increased or is recovering, instead we are just starting to make more effort to count them and searching in more places. Their scarcity after a steep decline and preference for remote parts of the country has made it difficult to count their numbers until now ,” continued Mr. Wright. The exact reasons for White-shouldered Ibis’ population decline in the last few decades remains something of a mystery, although hunting and habitat destruction are likely to have played a part. UEA, and partners, are currently researching the species’ ecology to find the best methods for conservation action. This coming breeding season will see new activities to understand why nests fail and how they can be protected. The next coordinated roost count will be happening in early September. With more roosts being found every month, the population figure will become increasingly accurate, to help inform conservationists of the true status of the species.

© Jonathan C. Eames.

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Project Updates

Last Chance to Save the Saola from Extinction? Meeting in Laos Urges Prompt Action

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onservation biologists based in four countries gathered for an emergency meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR, August 19–21 2009, to address the peril of extinction facing one the world’s most enigmatic mammals, the Saola.

The Saola Pseudoryx nghetinhensis inhabits remote valleys of the Annamite Mountains along the border of Lao PDR and Vietnam. It was discovered to world science only in 1992. At the time of its discovery, it was already rare and restricted to a small range. The experts attending the meeting agree that Saola numbers appear to have declined sharply since then, dangerously approaching the point of disappearance. In this it is reminiscent of Kouprey, a wild cattle species endemic to Indochina, which may have slid quietly to extinction sometime in the last twenty years. Today, the Saola’s own increasing proximity to extinction is likely paralleled by only two or three other large mammal species in Southeast Asia (such as the Javan Rhinoceros). Saola resemble the desert antelopes of Arabia, but are more closely related to wild cattle. The animal’s prominent white facial markings and long tapering horns lend it a singular beauty, and its reclusive habits in the wet forests of the Annamites an air of mystery. Saola have rarely been seen or photographed, and have proved difficult to keep alive in captivity. None is held in any zoo, anywhere in the world. Its wild population may number only in the dozens,

certainly not more than a few hundred. Saola are threatened primarily by hunting. The Vientiane meeting identified snaring and hunting with dogs (to which Saola is especially vulnerable) as the main direct threats to the species. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists Saola as Critically Endangered, which means it faces “an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild”. With none in zoos, and almost nothing known about how to maintain them in captivity, for Saola extinction in the wild would mean its extinction everywhere, with no possibility of recovery and reintroduction. The conservationists convened under the auspices of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC). The gathering was organized by the Saola Working Group of IUCN SSC’s Asian Wild Cattle Specialist Group (www.asianwildcattle.org). Funding came from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, with additional support from the IUCN Lao PDR Country Office, BirdLife International in Indochina and Global Wildlife Conservation. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. © 1996 by W. Robichaud/WCS.

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The Babbler 31 - September 2009 Last Chance to Save the Saola from Extinction? Meeting in Laos Urges Prompt Action (cont’d)

BirdLife International in Indochina

Project Updates

The meeting’s theme was From Plans to Action, in recognition that increased collaborative action is needed to save the species from extinction. The Saola Working Group includes staff of the Forestry Departments of Lao PDR and Vietnam, Vietnam’s Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources and Vinh University, as well as biologists and conservationists from non-government organizations, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and the World Wildlife Fund. Experts from the Smithsonian Institution and Gilman Conservation International also joined the meeting. The participating agencies and organizations committed to take specific actions in the next twelve months to significantly improve conservation of the species. Above all, the group emphasized that Saola cannot be saved without intensified removal of poachers’ snares and reduction of hunting with dogs in key areas of the Annamite forests. They also highlighted the importance of: • Improved methods to detect Saola in the wild; • Radio tracking to understand the animal’s conservation needs; • Heightened awareness in Lao PDR, Vietnam and within the world conservation community of the perilous status of the species; and • Markedly increased donor support for Saola conservation.

Participants at the Saolao workshop - Vientiane, 22 August, 2009 © BirdLife/CEPF project

According to William Robichaud, Coordinator of the Saola Working Group and chairman of the meeting, “We are at a point in history at which we still have a small but rapidly closing window of opportunity to conserve this extraordinary animal. That window has probably already closed for Kouprey, and the partners at the meeting are determined that Saola not be next.” Wild Saola caught on film by an automatic camera-trap in central Laos in 1999. Photo by Ban Vangban village/WCS/IUCN.

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BirdLife International in Indochina

MacArthur Climate Change Project

Project Updates

July-September 2009

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uring this quarter, the project team continued data collation from the published and unpublished literature. Climate Change Researcher Nguyen Van Quang has entered over 1,500 records into the database. These records have been taken from the journal Forktail, Birding ASIA and various BirdLife in Indochina technical reports. A part time volunteer, Vu Thuy Dung, joined us for six weeks to collate data from birders’ trip reports. She entered an impressive 450 records during this period. A number of other ornithologists and tour group leaders who are or have been active in the region, notably Will Duckworth, Le Manh Hung, Jack Tordoff and James Eaton, have agreed to contribute data to the project. The list of priority mammals for the project has been finalised, following a consultative process involving other MacArthur grantees working on biodiversity and climate change in the region.

convened by WWF. Through the workshop, knowledge on climate change was shared and data sources, knowledge, tools, and enabling conditions needed to implement climate change adaptations in the region were identified. The BirdLife team contributed to the workshop through communicating the benefits of applying good science to climate change scenario prediction. In a presentation they introduced the current project to a wider audience, drawing on experience from the similar BirdLife climate change project in Africa. The BirdLife team played an active role in break-out groups discussing potential climate change scenarios for key areas in the region, and designing possible adaptation and mitigation measures. In the next quarter, collation of bird data will continue, and collation of point-locality data for a small number of mammal species will begin.

In July, members of the project team attended a regional workshop

Š Photo credit: Zenith Phuong

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BirdLife International in Indochina

Bengal Floricans in the Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas

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irdLife International in Indochina, Cambodia Programme has been supporting Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis population monitoring in Cambodia conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Society, with support from other donors, and in partnership with the Forestry Administration, the Ministry of Environment, the University of East Anglia, and the Angkor Center for the Conservation of Biodiversity. Here, we update you on results of florican monitoring work and related activities conducted between August 2008 and July 2009. The Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis is a species of bustard that is Critically Endangered with extinction due to rapid habitat loss and hunting. The majority of the world’s population of Bengal Florican is dependent on grasslands located in and near to the floodplain of the Tonle Sap lake. Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas (IFBAs) have been set up in such grasslands in order to safeguard a part of the population, to conserve other rare species and to protect the access of local villages to key livelihood resources such as fisheries, agricultural land and pasture.

April 2009. A total of 62 1x1 km blocks was included in the survey, representing 25% of the total area. Displaying males were estimated to occur at an overall density of 0.28 per km² within IFBAs. Extrapolating this figure gives an overall estimate of 68 territorial males (with a 95% confidence interval of 44-105 territorial males). This represents 23% of the estimated national population and at least 90% of those inside conservation areas in Cambodia. This is the first comprehensive estimate of densities for the areas within current IFBA boundaries and will form the baseline for detection of future long-term trends. Very similar estimates were made on the basis of national surveys in 2005-7 that covered the same broad habitat blocks, but the results are not precisely comparable. Major land use changes were monitored through regular patrolling and use of satellite images. Dry season rice expansion destroyed 2% of the area of the IFBAs during 2008/9 and construction began on dams that will destroy a further 6% if they become operational in 2009/10. These are very significant threats.

In late 2008 the IFBA network in Kampong Thom was revised by provincial declaration and now covers 380 km². Two IFBAs were added in non-breeding areas and one floodplain IFBA was removed. This increased the total area of IFBAs, but the area of breeding habitat included was reduced significantly.

In 2009 a baseline was also set for more detailed habitat monitoring in the breeding season IFBAs. Percentages of various landcover types were recorded at the center of each monitoring square. The average percentage of grassland cover at the sampled locations varied between 50-75% for the different IFBAs.

A systematic sample count of displaying males in the four IFBAs located within breeding grounds (floodplain grasslands) was conducted during March-

Two nests were reported by villagers through the nest protection scheme and one (with two eggs) was successful. Reporting payments and success bonuses

Project Updates to the villagers amounted to $40. There continues to be low uptake of these incentives. To increase the number of nests reported it is recommended to conduct intensive outreach for the nest protection program among dry season rice farmers in the floodplain, immediately prior and during the harvesting season. In the non-breeding season 93 line transect surveys were conducted, from August to November, focusing on the two new IFBAs, Tuol Kreul-Phan Nheum and Trea-Samaki. Encounter rates were 0.17 and 0.13 floricans per transect in September and October respectively (the peak months of florican presence). Records of florican mostly came from the southeastern section of Trea-Samaki and an area just outside Tuol Kreul-Phan Nheum. The latter is a proposed plantation site and is rapidly being cleared. The distribution of Bengal Florican in the nonbreeding season overlaps to some extent with community forests, for instance both of the newly designated IFBAs overlap with community forests. It is recommended to continue this monitoring program on an annual basis. The same breeding season sample squares and non-breeding season transect locations should be included in future years to ensure comparability and repeat visits to each square should be made to allow estimation of detectability. More detailed land-cover monitoring should be put in place based on satellite images. If resources allow, grassland habitat and florican status should be monitored in the relevant parts of Prey Koh Conservation Area.

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BirdLife International in Indochina

Project Updates Bengal Floricans in the Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas (cont’d)

© Photo Credit: Charlotte Packman

Detailed conservation recommendations are outside the scope of this report since it does not include a review of the many conservation activities already underway. However, the 2009 results reveal the severe threat faced by the Bengal Florican, other grassland species and the human communities using these sites. Key recommendations are: • Strengthen legal protection for the existing IFBA network in order to prevent inappropriate large scale destructive development projects and reverse those that have begun, where possible.

• Improve management systems for the IFBAs to strengthen boundary demarcation, law enforcement, community participation and local benefits from tourism etc. • Continue ecological research to clarify the needs of breeding females and of birds in the non-breeding season, and to better understand vegetation dynamics such as scrub invasion. • Increase the total size of the florican population under some kind of conservation management, for example through expansion of the IFBAs where possible and through other approaches such as cooperation with community forestry committees, agreements with companies, and habitat improvement inside IFBAs. Robert van Zalinge, Tom Evans, Son Virak Wildlife Conservation Society Hong Chamnan Forestry Administration Ro Borei Ministry of Environment and Charlotte Packman University of East Anglia

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Conservation Ecology of Bengal Florican in Cambodia

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Update October 2009 irdLife International in Indochina Cambodia Programme, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Programme, have been working to assist Charlotte Packman, University of East Anglia (UEA), with her PhD research project. Here Charlotte updates us on the second year of fieldwork on the Critically Endangered Bengal Florican Houbaropsis bengalensis. The second year of fieldwork has proved highly successful, with a large volume of data collected that is essential for informing effective conservation practices. Additional satellite and radio transmitters were deployed on Floricans in February to March of this year, bringing the total to 19 tagged birds. 10 of these tags are satellite transmitters which are enabling Florican movements to be tracked between breeding (dry) and non-breeding (wet) seasons. This is revealing previously unknown nonbreeding sites which should be incorporated into the network of protected habitat (see Figure 1). The transmitters are also providing locations for an assessment of female breeding habitat use and male and female non-breeding habitat requirements. Satellite locations were visited to collect detailed habitat data. In addition, ‘ground truth’ habitat data from 550+ locations in the

Project Updates

breeding and non-breeding areas were collected to enable a broad scale classification of habitat from a satellite image of the area. Monitoring of territorial males was conducted with the Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Programme, allowing an assessment of long-term trends in Florican numbers. Prey densities in different habitats were examined throughout the breeding season along with cattle densities. Changes in the grassland habitat were analysed by re-visiting sites where habitat data had previously been collected and repeating these measures and combining this information with the satellite habitat classification maps and changes in cattle density records. The deployment of additional satellite transmitters is planned for the third season of fieldwork in 2010, as well as the collection of more habitat data from nonbreeding areas as satellite locations from each tagged bird continue to accumulate. This will further improve understanding of key non-breeding areas and habitat Figure 1. Generalised schematic of Florican movements from breeding (dry) requirements to direct future Florican conservation measures. Watch this space for season areas to non-breeding (wet) season areas, 2008 & 2009, from 10 satellite-tagged birds. fieldwork results. *IFBA = Integrated Farming & Biodiversity Area. These are special areas set up to protect Florican habitat and the livelihoods of local communities. Charlotte Packman University of East Anglia

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Project Updates Strengthening the Natmataung National Park Local Conservation Group Network project in Myanmar

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yanmar: BirdLife affiliate BANCA (Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association) has been implementing the Jenson small grants project Strengthening the Natmataung National Park Local Conservation Group Network.

The goal of the project is to maintain the integrity of the Natmataung National Park forest habitat, biodiversity and environmental services through a network of local conservation groups and partners. In doing so, the project aims to expand and strengthen the network of partners from the village level to higher levels that work together for effective conservation and development activities. Here BANCA report on their progress in strengthening Local Conservation Groups (LGCs) Network, made up of local community and local authority representatives, who contribute to the protection of Natmataung National Park. • BANCA has provided field equipment to ten new villages in the buffer/core zone of the national park. Some of the items include rain coats, water-proof long pants, jungle knives, head lights, hats, belts, and metal water containers. • Informal contracts between BANCA and 10 new LCGs were signed. There are 6 new LCGs in Mindat Township: Baung, Chut, Chat, Mile-40, Lonkhar and Yaunglaung; and 4 new LCGs in Kanpetlet Township: Khin, Saeke, Saingnan and Pyanchaung. • BANCA staff, Natmataung park staff, and 10 villagers from each village are patrolling against new shifting cultivation, poaching, illegal extractions of timber and NTFPs (Non Timber Forest Products). Minor offences of encroachment of shifting cultivation and traditional poaching on wild pigs were found. • Mobile education and awareness raising has been initiated in 15 villages. 990 communication materials were distributed, including, posters about Natmataung National Park and endemic species, booklets containing information on biodiversity conservation, and environmental educational cartoon booklets.

Mount Bwe Pa looking south to Mount Natmataung © Jonathan C. Eames

• Representatives from 26 LCGs, national park staff and BANCA staff attended a Forest/Wildlife Law Enforcement training course. Participants were trained by the Warden and Chairman of BANCA in monitoring and enforcement of biodiversity conservation. LCGs were provided with equipment to effectively perform monitoring and enforcement activities. Copies of Forest Law and Wildlife Law in Myanmar language were distributed to all those attending the course.

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BirdLife International in Indochina

BirdLife Publication

ith an area of 9.6 million square kilometres, China is almost as big as Europe. On the eastern side, almost all birds that breed in eastern Russia and Mongolia have to migrate through or winter in China. On the western side, the steppe and mountains are the large strongholds of many species found in inland Asia, for example, Black-necked Crane Grus nigricollis and Saker Falcon Falco cherrug. In the south-west, mountains of the eastern Himalayas interlock with the subtropical forests of South East Asia, resulting in an area of high diversity and endemism and relict species. Conservation of Asia’s bird species cannot be achieved without China.

Directory of Important Bird Areas in China (Mainland): Key Sites for Conservation

The IBA directory for mainland China is the most comprehensive inventory of key sites for biodiversity in the country. China is one of the most important countries in the world for birds. It is home to over 80 Globally Threatened bird species and for 40 of these, China is critical for their survival. This phenomenal publication identifies 512 Important Bird Areas, covering 1 million square kilometres of Chinese habitats. It demonstrates the enormous richness of China’s biodiversity and its international importance. The IBAs are the critical places for the conservation of the birds in China and, with them, a wealth of other biodiversity. IBAs are a crucial subset of key biodiversity areas and can lead the way in helping prioritise conservation planning and financing. This publication is an inventory of sites that have been clearly identified through a thorough assessment of their biodiversity value. It is therefore a formidable tool to guide decision makers in governments, private sector, investment banks, and donor institutions in order to avoid adverse impacts of development projects on priority sites and species, and to direct conservation funding toward clearly defined priorities. Simba Chan, Senior Conservation Officer, BirdLife International, said, “We believe this is the best we can get with the resources available at present. We want to have it published to promote an understanding and interest in IBAs amongst amateurs and researchers alike, and have a wider involvement of contributors to the programme. Then we will have a more comprehensive and detailed inventory on important sites to be protected in China. The IBA inventory we published now marks a beginning, but not the conclusion, of the IBA development in China.” Chan, S. Crosby, M. Samson. S. Dezhi, W. Cheung, F. and Fangyuan, H. (2009) Directory of Important Bird Areas in China (Mainland): Key Sites for Conservation. BirdLife International. The English language versions of the Important Bird Area accounts are available to download from the Internet (www.chinabirdnet.org).

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BirdLife International in Indochina

Book Review

lose Encounters spotlights species newly identified by science including 100 plants, 28 fish, 18 reptiles, 14 amphibians, 2 mammals and a bird, all discovered in 2008 within the Greater Mekong region of South-East Asia that spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan. Among the extraordinary new discoveries are 27 new palm trees, 11 lizards, 8 catfish, 7 new snakes, 6 new orchids, 2 wild bananas, 1 bat and 1 shrew species. The new finds also contain rare and potentially endangered species. The new species are the latest additions to an already impressive list of species found in this globally-unique landscape, including Indochinese tigers, Javan rhinos, rare primates and ungulates, Irrawaddy river dolphins and the Mekong giant catfish. More than 1,000 new species have been discovered in the Greater Mekong over the past decade. Close Encounters highlights that the diverse species and habitats of the Greater Mekong region continue to face a wave of ever-growing threats, including habitat loss, infrastructure development, and unsustainable and illegal natural resource use. The publication states that as little as 5% of the region’s natural habitats remain intact today, with climate change compounding these threats. The publication further highlights the biological importance of this unique and diverse land. The extraordinary new species discoveries of 2008 cements the Greater Mekong’s place as one of the world’s last biological frontiers, but also what could be lost if the increasing impact of climate change is not urgently addressed in a coordinated and proactive way.

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The publication can be downloaded here: http:// assets.panda.org/downloads/greater_mekong_new_ species_08_final.pdf

orporate WWF has done it again! They have published a glossy well produced publication that draws attention to many of the recent species discoveries made in the Great Mekong region. Heaven knows this region needs dramatically more conservation effort because it faces the highest rates of species loss anywhere on Earth. The justification then for such a publication is strong. It could however, have been far better executed. The publication somewhat misleadingly gives the impression that much of this work was funded or undertaken by WWF. In fact we have found little or no evidence for this. Of the 6 type descriptions mentioned in the text that we checked we found that in no cases had the work formed part of a WWF programme or project, although in one case we found that a WWF scientist was involved. Of course one doesn’t need to have discovered a species to stand-up for its conservation, but how much more impact would this publication had if the authors of the type descriptions had been correctly cited and if the scientific and other conservation bodies actually responsible for the discoveries had been credited and all of their logos placed on the cover? Jonathan C. Eames Programme Manager BirdLife International in Indochina

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Book Review The status and habitat of Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Mondulkiri.

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ellow-cheeked crested gibbon Nomascus gabriellae is a Globally Threatened Endangered species, restricted to the east of the Mekong River in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. The conservation status of this taxon is however clouded by the uncertain taxonomic status of northern populations and the lack of accurate population estimates. Surveys were conducted in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary (PPWS), Mondulkiri province, Cambodia to assess the status of the gibbon population around this protected area. Distribution and population size were obtained from auditory sampling undertaken between January and April 2008. The survey used single listening posts, visited on three consecutive mornings, to estimate the density of gibbon groups. Fifty-three listening posts were established across 866 km² of suitable habitat. These were used to obtain a gibbon population estimate. The estimated total population size within PPWS was 149 (95% CI range: 15-273) gibbon groups; 89 groups in semi-evergreen forest; 18 groups in riparian semi-evergreen forest; 36 groups in evergreen forest and 6 groups in riparian evergreen forests. Suitable habitat in the north-west of the site, and within Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary, Ratanakiri, were unoccupied by gibbon suggesting PPWS may represent the northern distributional limit of

typical yellow-cheeked crested gibbon. WWF population estimate compares to >800 groups within Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, the only other site within the species’ range with similarly robust population estimates. Among protected areas, PPWS may support the second largest global population of taxonomically unambiguous Nomascus gabriellae. The report states that threats to the gibbon within PPWS largely derive from habitat loss and degradation driven by extractive activities (mining and logging) and associated infrastructure developments. However, given strong future management the report puts forward that the site has good potential conservation value for yellow-cheeked crested gibbon, due to the current relatively manageable threat levels and a habitat mosaic that includes several large patches of suitable evergreen forest. Channa, P. and Gray, T. (2009) The status and habitat of Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon Nomascus gabriellae in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Mondulkiri. WWF Greater Mekong Programme: Cambodia. The publication can be downloaded here: http://assets.panda.org/downloads/gibbon_ pop_survey_report__lowres.pdf

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A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia

Robson, C. (2008), Bangkok: Asia Books, New Holland Publishers.

Book Review

n late 2008 the new of edition of Robson’s Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia (published in Thailand by Asia Books as A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia) was published, in hardback form. Setting initial excitement aside, for those who already own a copy of the 2005 field guide edition and the 2000 hardback edition with its expanded text is the new edition worth the investment?

initially confusing system of employing three different numbering systems concurrently. Species text accounts follow the sequence of unique numbers assigned to species, but for reasons of space, sequence of species on plates (which are numbered following a different system) does not completely follow the same order as the text accounts. The index lists both plate and sequence numbers for each species, rendering the page numbers obsolete.

This edition retains the same misleading name as previous editions: it is not a field guide to the birds of South-East Asia, since it does not cover the Greater Sundas, it is a field guide to Mainland South-East Asia. Structurally, the layout of the new edition is similar to the 2000 edition, with the plates preceding the detailed species accounts. However, in this new edition, the text for the species accounts is presented in two columns, which makes it easier to read. The text has been fully updated, and therefore contains the most up-to-date distributional information available, an invaluable resource for birders. There are no distribution maps, just as in previous editions, and this is appropriate in a region where species’ ranges are still poorly known. Range extensions are mostly based on reports by birdwatchers and not made on the basis of specimens (and the same is true for new records for the region). They are therefore, depending on your point of view, hypothetical. There are instances also of where we are not certain of a record from a region and feel the inclusion by be predictive. For example the range of Coral-billedScimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus ferruginosus dickensoni is given to include s outh Laos but we are not aware of any specimens of this form having being collected outside Vietnam. In the new edition Robson persists with the

Compared to the last edition, the sequence of species has been changed significantly. As in the 2005 edition (but not the 2000), thumbnail pictures of a representative from each family are depicted on the inside front cover to help the user quickly locate the correct page. Nonetheless, even with practice it is time-consuming to find species and I even find myself having to use the index. We are told that this shuffling of the families is to keep up with advances in knowledge of family relationships, but does this really need to be reflected in a field guide, especially since many of these changes are at best provisional and that the evolution of birds is not a linear process. Surely the whole purpose of a field guide is to facilitate accurate and rapid identification of a bird in the field? Even if the former sequence was “wrong” perhaps it would be better to stick to a well recognised sequence, even if that were simply the sequence adopted in the previous edition of the same book. One of the notable features of the most recent edition of this field guide is the increased number of species it covers compared to the last. The 2008 edition has 1,327 species accounts, 76 more than the 2000 edition (1,251 species accounts) and 57 more than the 2005 offering (1,270 species accounts). These changes are

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Book Review version, so this is attempted here. The changes in the number of species treated in the 2008 edition can be broken down as follows: 32 species previously unrecorded in the region before 2000 (16 of these appeared in the 2005 edition), 49 additional species for the region since 2000 due to taxonomic splits (47 of these were not included in the 2005 edition), two species omitted from the 2008 edition which were thought to have occurred in the region when the 2000 edition was published (this situation was rectified in the 2005 edition) and three species recognised in the 2000 edition but omitted from the 2008 version owing to taxonomic change (in the 2005 edition this situation was partially rectified: one of these three was lumped, one was still recognised and one was recognised with a note indicating that it was not thought to be a valid species). Regarding taxa recently described, not yet described, or recently revealed, there are a few minor changes. The still undescribed “Limestone Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus sp.” receives a full text account, illustration and unique species number (in the 2000 and 2005 editions it was treated as a resident population of Sulphur-breasted Leaf-warbler Phylloscopus ricketti). One of the two species described from the region since 2000 (Naung-Mung Scimitar-babbler Jabouilleia naungmungensis (Rappole et al. 2005)) does not receive a full text account and instead is treated as a subspecies of Indochinese Wren-babbler Rimator danjoui (itself named Short-tailed Scimitar-babbler Jabouillleia danjoui in previous editions). In contrast, Chestnuteared Laughingthrush Garrulax konkakinhensis (Eames and Eames 2001) was treated as a full species from the 2005 edition onwards. “White-faced Plover” Charadrius (a.) dealbatus receives a species account

on page 328 (as species 264A) but no illustration or mention on the relevant plate or in the introduction section. In keeping with the 2005 edition, Robson follows a taxonomy which built on that used in the previous edition with a number of taxonomic changes which lack a peer-reviewed source, a trend shown by a number of recently published field guides by other authors (e.g. Rasmussen and Anderton 2005). Although this is unlikely to worry most birders, particularly those who are keen to have as many “species” as possible available for ticking purposes, might it not have been better to adhere to current scientific knowledge by including only splits for which a published peer-reviewed source exists, and then to draw attention to marked variation in subspecies through appropriate illustrations and divisions in text accounts, thus drawing attention to diagnosable phenotypes which might in the future be split? The wealth of taxonomic splits adopted by Robson necessitates a host of new English names, it is down to personal preference whether or not these are to your taste. Robson has made 239 changes in nomenclature between this edition and the 2000 edition and, helpfully, these are listed in the introduction section of the book (although it would have been useful to document changes since the 2005 edition as well). Outside of those changes which have been forced through revision of species limits, most of these are changes to scientific names and concern revision of genus limits and resolution of gender issues. Most changes in English names concern more widespread use of the hyphen, although others are

less explicable, e.g. the use of Orange-billed Scimitar-babbler for Red-billed Scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus ochraceiceps. Why change an English name which is well established and relatively accurate? Curiously, Robson does not always follow the published literature in his choice of English names for newly split species. For instance, Psittiparus bakeri is named Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill in the new edition of the field guide, even though King and Robson (2008) propose the name Rufous-headed Parrotbill for this taxon with some persuasive arguments.

Craig Robson © Birdquest.co.uk

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Book Review The plates will be familiar to anyone who already possesses either the 2000 or 2005 editions. Some are very good, most are good and almost all are adequate for field identification. For many people, the plates in the 2000 and 2005 aeditions contained two many figures of whole or partial birds, and nothing has changed in this regard. The plates have been reordered to reflect the new taxonomic sequence adopted in this edition, and this has also led to a reorganisation of the illustrations on the plates. Although the changes in taxonomy have been significant between 2005 and 2008, this has not precipitated an overhaul of the plates, indeed there are very few new illustrations throughout. Almost all of the newly recognised species in the 2008 edition were illustrated as distinctive races in the 2000 and 2005 editions, and these figures have simply been re-labeled to reflect taxonomic changes, even though some taxa were only partially illustrated in 2005. This means that, for instance, we only get half a White-hooded Babbler Gampsorhynchus rufulus and two-thirds of a Spot-breasted Scimitar-babbler Pomatorhinus mcclellandi. However, since most of the splits adopted by the book have created pairs of allospecies, this practice does not hinder field identification, providing you know where

you are. Compared with the 2000 edition there are 47 species illustrated for the first time in 2008, but only 20 compared with the 2005 edition. Compared with the 2000 edition these are made up of six splits (same number compared with the 2005 edition), 30 new species for the region (14 compared with the 2005 edition) and 11 species simply not illustrated in the 2000 edition (all illustrated for the first time in 2005). In addition, in the 2008 edition the plate showing Himalyan Buzzard Buteo burmanicus (formerly treated as part of Common Buzzard Buteo buteo which is now an extralimital visitor), Common Buzzard Buteo buteo sensu stricto and Long-legged Buzzard Buteo rufinus, has been completely re-drawn, there is a new illustration of Scaly Thrush Zoothera dauma to complement that of the recently split White’s Thrush Zoothera aurea, a new illustration of Black Eagle Ictinaetus malayensis and the race hoae of the newly split Vietnamese Cutia Cutia legalleni is illustrated for the first time. It should also be noted that in the 2005 edition 120 illustrations were improved or corrected, and these changes are retained in the 2008 edition. However,aside from the changes mentioned above, none of the other plates have been improved in the new edition. Five of the species in the 2008 edition are not illustrated, because they are not visually identifiable in the field. Of these, one is a cryptic species not recorded in the region before 2000, but detailed (and not illustrated) in the 2005 edition (Marten’s Warbler Seicercus omeiensis), and four are species split since the 2005 edition was published. In contrast, some of the newly split cryptic Phylloscopus warblers are illustrated (presumably since existing illustrations were available from the 2005 edition), although these illustrations are at best unhelpful and at worst create an illusion that these species can be identified in the field on plumage characteristics. Perhaps it would have been more helpful to include sonograms for these and other cryptic species. Although the text has been thoroughly updated throughout, editing of text is not always of a high standard, and there are a number of relict sentences which made sense in previous editions, but have been rendered obsolete following changes in taxonomy. For instance, on page 278 under the expanded Edwards’s Pheasant Lophura edwardsi the author describes L. e. edwardsi and then outlines how L. e. hatinhensis differs from it before remarking “See Vietnamese and Imperial Pheasants.”.

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Book Review A Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand and South-East Asia (cont’d)

This is still by far the best book for birding in mainland South-east Asia, and it is now improved in a number of respects. Most importantly, distributional and taxonomic information is much updated, but conversely, some poor illustrations have not been. Therefore, if you don’t yet have an earlier edition, are still using Robson 2000, or don’t have the time to annotate your copy of Robson 2005 with taxonomic changes, then you should buy this book. Simon Mahood, with contributions from John Pilgrim, Swen Renner and Jonathan C. Eames.

BirdLife International in Indochina

Climate change, sea-level rise scenarios for Vietnam (2009) Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. Vietnam, Hanoi.

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his report sets out the Vietnamese Government’s official climate change and sea-level rise scenarios, developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment. The Government will base its spending under the National Target Program to Respond to Climate Change on these scenarios. Throughout the report results are presented for seven geographical regions of the country under three different global emissions scenarios, low, intermediate and high for each decade up to 2100. Results are presented in tables and maps, and discussed in the text.

The report tells us that by 2100, the average temperature in Vietnam is expected to Literature cited increase by 1.5 – 3.0° C, total annual rainfall is Collar, N. J. (2006) A partial revision of the Asian babblers (Timaliexpected to increase and sea level is expected to rise by 50-100 cm compared to the idae). Forktail 22: 85-112. average for 1980-1999, depending on which Collar, N. J. & Pilgrim, J. D. (2007) Species-level changes proposed emissions scenario the world elects or neglects for Asian birds, 2005–2006. BirdingASIA 8: 14-30. to follow. InVietnam, temperature rises are Eames, J. C. and Eames, C. (2001) A new species of laughingthrush expected to be most dramatic in the northern (Passeriformes: Garrulacinae) from the Central Highlands of Vietregions, in areas of high attitude, and in winnam. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 121:10-23. ter. This is likely to have significant negative King, B. and Robson, R. (2008) The taxonomic status of the three sub- implications for Himalayan species whose ranges only just reach Vietnam, and, more species of Greater Rufous-headed Parrotbill Paradoxornis ruficeps. importantly, for species endemic to the region Forktail 24: 120-129. and restricted to a narrow (but high) Rappole, J. H., S. C. Renner, Nay Myo Shwe, and P. R. Sweet. 2005. elevational range, such as Indochinese A new species of scimitar-babbler (Timaliidae: Jabouilleia) from the Fulvetta Alcippe danisi. Increases in annual sub-Himalayan region of Myanmar. Auk 122: 1064-1069. rainfall are also predicted to be greatest in northern regions, and most of the extra rain Rasmussen, P. C. & Anderton, J. C. (2005) Birds of South Asia: the Ripley guide. Washington, D.C. & Barcelona: Smithsonian Institution will fall during the rainy season. In contrast, it is predicted that there will be a dramatic & Lynx Edicions. decrease in rainfall during the dry

season, particularly in southern regions. Vietnam is therefore predicted to become a country with more extreme weather conditions. Inundation maps are presented for Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, unfortunately those for central regions and the Red River Delta were not ready in time for inclusion in the report. These maps only document the effects of elevated sea-level relevant to annual average sea-level: they do not take into account annual extremes of sea-level, such as those experienced during a storm. This reduces their usefulness, since it is the extremes of sea-level which will determine which areas are suitable for habitation, farming and biodiversity in the future. Nonetheless, this is a useful report which clearly presents baseline predictions for climate change in Vietnam, moreover is expected to be updated over five years. Simon Mahood Conservation Advisor BirdLife International in Indochina

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Book Review

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ommercial wildlife farms, where wildlife is bred and raised in captivity with the intention of harvesting the animal or a product from the animal for commercial profit, have been developed to varying scales in many countries worldwide, yet the practice is spreading rapidly in Asia. Proponents of wildlife farms often cite them as not only a tool for improving food security of local communities but also a means of alleviating poverty in rural areas. More recently they have been proposed as beneficial to conservation, not only as a market mechanism that would substitute supply from wild populations with farmed stock, but also as a direct source of stock for supplementing or reintroducing wild populations. However, the development and operation of wildlife farms is hotly debated amongst conservationists and development experts as many fear they are not the solution to conservation, with some basic indicators that the underlying assumptions are flawed. For example, despite over 10,000 bears in bile farms in China and Vietnam, there are frequent confiscations of bear gall bladders indicating a trade in wild parts still flourishes. This report raises many questions and includes a study aimed to improve the understanding of the conservation implications of commercial wildlife farms for a range of species in Vietnam. Discussions include wildlife farms and livelihoods, public health, conservation of wild populations, supply-side intervention (wildlife farms as a tool to tackle the illegal wildlife trade), and management, monitoring and enforcement of wildlife farms. ----------------WCS (2008) Commercial wildlife farms in Vietnam: A problem or solution for conservation? Wildlife Conservation Society. Hanoi, Vietnam. For a copy of the technical report in English or Vietnamese please email wcsvietnam@gmail.com or ntnhung@wcs.org

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ung Mang, an ethnic Chin from the mountains of western Myanmar, is a man of many talents. Some know him as the Forest Guard who nabbed a wildlife trader for possession of a clouded leopard pelt—a Critically Endangered species—in the first-ever prosecuted case of wildlife trade from Natmataung National Park. Villagers around the park may know him better as a ng’sa, a traditional mediator who they call on to resolve conflicts according to Chin customary law, whether it be murder, insult to person or tradition, or accidents. And to local sports fans, he is best known as former Captain of the Chin State football team from 1990, and played in various national venues until his retirement from football in 1996. But to BirdLife International in Indochina and local partner BANCA, Hung Mang is best known as the force behind promotion of the Site Support Groups in the communities in and around Natmataung National Park. Also known as Mt. Victoria, in the critically important Eastern Himalayan EBA, the park’s pine and mixed oak-rhododendron forests provide habitat for several endangered flora and fauna species, over 100 species of orchids that are still being discovered and identified, and the Critically Endangered White-browed Nuthatch Sitta victoriae which is found nowhere else in the world. The park is also home to Chin hill farmers, who live in 30 villages in the core area of the park and 80 in the buffer zone. These farmers, as well as outsiders, threaten the park’s biodiversity with activities such as clearing forest for hill fields, gathering valuable orchids for sale to China, hunting game such as sambar

BirdLife International in Indochina

deer, barking deer, and wild boar; and trapping and snaring birds. Local people are expert at setting traps, snares, and smearing a sticky glue made of banyan sap on the stems of plants where birds come to perch---several hundred birds might be caught at one setting, and are caught to give as gifts in a traditional Chin social exchange.

Profile

To help bring an end to these practices the Park Warden assigned Hung Mang to work with BANCA staff in the villages, where his skills in communication, community organization, and conflict resolution have been invaluable in making the village-based Site Support Groups successful. In 2007, newly-established patrol teams in 16 villages reported over 46 infractions of forest regulations to the park staff, and confiscated hundreds of traps, snares and glue pots; park staff note a significant decline in forest incursions around the SSG villages. Hung Mang’s involvement with Natmataung National Park also brought him a wife-they met at the park office, where she is an administrative staff. Now they have two sons, one of whom is in his second year of zoology at university, and one in grade school, who likes to follow his father into the forest with a pair of binoculars. Hung Mang himself graduated from high school in the neighboring township of Mindat, where he was born in 1965, and his father was a schoolteacher. Hung Mang cannot pinpoint the moment that he became interested in conservation, but now he loves to be in the forest more than being at home. He has learned by doing, as well as a conservation training provided by WCS to the forest staff early in his forestry career.”

Hung Mang a man ofPhoto many talents and text by Karin Eberhardt “A way to conserve the forest” he says. “This is the vision that the Park Warden leads us to achieve, and it is shared by the other staff. I have never seen a live sambar deer---I have only seen dead ones, as meat to eat. But I really want to conserve the deer, the forest, the habitat for all the animals. I will do whatever it takes, go wherever it may lead. I want to help make the history of conservation of Natmataung National Park.” 39


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Staff News Nguyen Huu Mai Phuong

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ith a BA degree in Sociology, and an MA degree in Development Studies, Phuong (aka Zen) joined the BirdLife team in August 2009, as Communication Officer. Previously Phuong worked for Plan International in Vietnam as a project officer for the Juvenile Crime Prevention and Reintegration project, as well as freelance Communication Assistant for Orbis International, supporting fundraising activities both in Vietnam and the UK. In her new position with BirdLife, Phuong will work to raise public awareness of the organisation and its conservation work. Phuong is looking forward to bringing her experience in social development to conservation through various Birdlife communication activities, since she believes that the most sustainable wildlife conservation can be done only with the help of local people. Phuong is also a fond photographer. Her photographs can be found at: www. phuongphotos.com or www.flickr.com/photos/phuongnguyen

Simon Mahood

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imon Mahood joined BirdLife, Vietnam Programme, in March 2008 as Conservation Advisor. During his 18 months with BirdLife, Simon provided technical advice to five different projects, covering the areas of awareness raising, monitoring and evaluation, producing technical reports, and documenting biodiversity. During 2009, Simon has been leading a BirdLife Climate Change project, on which data collation is progressing at a good pace. Simon also produced two editions of The Babbler, which he enjoyed. Simon leaves BirdLife to lead a team of specially trained sniffer dogs to locate rhino dung in the Cat Loc sector of Cat Tien National Park, whereby DNA and hormones will be extracted from the dung and analysed to accurately estimate the size of the population. Simon has enjoyed working with BirdLife staff, and hopes that this is not the end of his involvement with BirdLife in the region.

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Staff News

Leaving:

Nina Ksor

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ina Ksor worked as Project Officer for BirdLife Indochina’s Integrating Watershed and Biodiversity Management at Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak Province project for two and a half years. Based in the Chu Yan Sin National Park headquarters, Krong Bong District, some of Nina’s activities included, working to help build capacity building in park management, assisting with assessment of buffer zone communities, and co-coordinating the awareness team, and effective patrolling of the park. During her time working on the project, Nina built good relations with district and provincial government and communities, and was known for her pleasant manner. BirdLife would like to thank Nina for the time she committed to the project, and wish her all the best in her personal and professional endeavors.

Leaving:

Nguyen Duc Tu

M

r. Nguyen Duc Tu leaves BirdLife Vietnam programme after 11 years. During his time with the organisation Tu worked as a passionate and committed conservationist who made an important contribution to the development of BirdLife. Tu possesses a great technical knowledge of the conservation scene in Vietnam and has a critical insight into the constraints that hinder conservation in this country. During his career with BirdLife, Tu was involved in project development, management and implementation. Although in recent years Tu’s work focused on wetland conservation, working on a range of projects within BirdLife's portfolio, including: the Global Environment Facility (GEF)/World Bank medium-sized project Integrated Watershed and Biodiversity Management at Chu Yang Sin National Park, Dak Lak province, Vietnam (2005-2010); the GEF/United Nations Development Programme medium-sized project Making the link: the connection and sustainable management of Kon Ka Kinh National Park and Kon Cha Rang Nature Reserve; the EU-funded project Expanding the Protected Area Network in Vietnam for 21th Century (2000-2001), and the Netherlands Embassy-funded Mekong Key Wetlands in the Red River and Mekong Deltas (1998-2000). We wish him all the best in the future. For the moment, would like to say "see you again, Tu!"

41


The Babbler 31 - Sept. 2009

BirdLife International in Indochina

Staff News Ananda Van Boeyen This quarter we farewell two Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development volunteers (AYADS)

A

nanda Van Boeyen, joined BirdLife International in Indochina, Vietnam Programme as an AYAD in February 2009. During her 8 months as Communications Officer, Ananda worked to raise the public profile of BirdLife International in Indochina, produced three editions of The Babbler, and provided support to the Chu Yang Sin National Park project. Ananda is very thankful for the opportunity that BirdLife has given her, to work for such an esteemed organisation, and will take her new found skills and knowledge of the conservation industry to further her work in the not for profit industry.

Melanie Mott

M

elanie Mott, joined BirdLife International In Indochina, Cambodia Programme as an AYAD in October 2008, finishing September this year. As Community Environmental Awareness Advisor, Melanie provided support to the Sarus Crane conservation project in the Lower Mekong delta, developed awareness raising tool for Lomphat Wildlife Sanctuary, and implemented Ramsar convention projects.

X

In her farewell email, Melanie wrote, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank BirdLife International, in Indochina, Cambodia Programme for hosting me as an AYAD and for supporting me throughout my placement. I wish you [BirdLife] luck in continuing to improve bird and other wildlife conservation, and working with local people to improve their lives. It has been a privilege working with you all so closely during my placement.�

42


The Babbler 31 - September 2009

Bare-faced Bulbul Pycnonotus hualon

BirdLife International in Indochina

T

Photo Spot

he Bare-faced Bulbul Pycnonotus hualon so-named because of the lack of feathers on its face and part of its head, is the only example of a bald songbird in mainland Asia. It is the first new species of bulbul – a family of about 130 species – described in Asia in over 100 years. The thrush-sized bird is greenish-olive with a light-colored breast, a distinctive featherless, pink face with bluish skin around the eye extending to the bill and a narrow line of hair-like feathers down the centre of the crown. The bird seems to be primarily tree-dwelling and was found in an area of sparse forest on rugged limestone karst – a little-visited habitat known for unusual wildlife discoveries. “There is every possibility that this species occurs in the Phong Na - Ke Bang limestone massif in Quang Binh province, Vietnam, because the habitat is the same as where the bird is found in Laos and its close by.” said Jonathan C. Eames, programme manager, BirdLife International in Indochina These photographs were taken on 18 August 2009 near Na Hin close to the southern boundary of Nam Kading National Protected Area, Laos.

© Jonathan C. Eames

43


The Babbler 31 - September 2009

BirdLife International in Indochina

From the Archives

E

dward Lear, British poet and painter known for his absurd wit, was born in 1812 and began his career as an artist at age 15. His father, a stockbroker of Danish origins, was sent to debtor’s prison when Lear was thirteen and the young Lear was forced to earn a living. Lear quickly gained recognition for his work and in 1832 was hired by the London Zoological Society to execute illustrations of birds. In the same year, the Earl of Denby invited Lear to reside at his estate at Knowsley Hall,; Lear ended up staying on until 1836. One such study, dated ‘Knowsley, June 24 1835’, reveals Edward Lear’s working methods. The subject is a bird which Lear called Garrulax sinensis or ‘Indian Crying Thrush’ (Hwamei Laughing Thrush Garrulax canorus). Lear augmented a detailed rendering of his primary subject with marginal posture studies of other birds, and made notes to himself about how to capture the illusive colours of the living thrush. At the top of

the page he wrote ‘this bird must be more graceful’ and ‘make the head smaller’. He also instructed himself to make the ‘eye greener’, the tail area ‘brighter’, the legs a ‘pale shny flesh-horn colour’, the throat ‘more olive-mottled’ and the ‘plumes very silky’. Lear’s final version of the painting, which incorporates all of his own instructions, is at Knowsley. Noted for his talent as a lithographer and for work arising from his relationship with John Gould resulting in works on parrots and toucans amongst others, this painting is one of

his few known renderings in print of an Asian passerine. -------Source: Peck, R. (2002) Edward Lear, Natural History Artist in A Passion for Natural History - The life anf legacy of the 13th Earl of Derby (2002) National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside: p. 164 - 173

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The Babbler 31  

Quarterly newsletter of BirdLife International in Indochina (July - September 2009)

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