Colombian Partner Organizes Jaguar Festival

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Fundación ProAves has successfully organized the first ever Jaguar festival in the Municipality of Mapiripán, located in Colombia’s Amazon Region. Planned with the support of municipal officials, the festival was created to increase support for local environmental protection, specifically the establishment of the proposed El Jaguar Reserve.

Situated along the border of Colombia’s llano grasslands and the Amazon rainforest, the proposed El Jaguar Reserve contains a rich mixture of forest and wetland features.

Identified as a conservation priority due to its extraordinary levels of wildlife density and threatened species, the proposed reserve is home to an impressive array of wildlife. Its lakes, rivers and marshes provide habitat for Amazon River Dolphins and Giant River Otters, while its forests are home to Giant Anteaters, Capybaras, South American Tapirs, Brown Woolly Monkeys, and Jaguars.

For web 3 Celebrating Jaguars in Mapiripán © ProAves  
For web Environmental education class © ProAves
For web2 Young Jaguars © ProAves

The reserve’s Jaguars, now isolated due to habitat loss, have become a rallying point for ProAves protection efforts and helped inspire the recent festival.

The festival, which took place in the town of Mapiripán, included a variety of participatory activities attended by many of the town’s school children. These events included songs, plays, traditional dances, as well as a parade. In addition, ProAves offered environmental workshops to educate local citizens about surroundings ecosystems and the threats they face.

Habitat destruction and hunting activities have combined to create a situation that poses growing challenges for wildlife in the Mapiripán Municipality.

Over 11,000 acres of forest surrounding the proposed 4,164-acre El Jaguar Reserve have already been converted into oil palm plantations. Areas not directly threatened by expanding palm plantations remain vulnerable to growing agricultural and ranching demands.

Widespread hunting has also hurt wildlife populations – especially Jaguars. More than 15,000 Jaguar pelts were taken the 1960s, causing a severe decline in Jaguar populations. These threats have made the creation and expansion of protected areas a priority in Central Colombia.

To tackle this issue, Rainforest Trust is working with ProAves to buy several properties along the Guaviare River that will be used to establish the El Jaguar Reserve.

Once purchased, the newly establish nature reserve will fall under the watchful eyes of ProAves’ park guards who will monitor the site by means of regular boat and foot patrols.

“ProAves is setting a new standard of community involvement by working constructively with the Municipality of Mapiripán. The creative ways in which they engage the community are really opening people’s eyes to the benefits of rainforest protection,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust. “ This is key for successful conservation both now and in the future.”

Visit Rainforest Trust’s El Jaguar project page to protect acres or learn more about the El Jaguar Reserve.

Rainforest Trust Announces Campaign to Protect Amazon Rainforest for International Polar Bear Day

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WARRENTON, VA – Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving threatened lands and endangered species, has launched a campaign in honor of International Polar Bear Day on February 27, 2015.

The campaign is designed to build public awareness of the links between rainforest destruction, climate change, and threats to polar bears. Rainforest destruction is a driving force behind climate change and accounts for as much as 25 percent of human caused carbon emissions – an amount greater than all emissions from trucks, cars, trains and planes combined.

Wakx6 Rainforest destruction is a major cause of climate change © Wakx  
Susanne Nilsson
Ice loss is dramatically changing polar bear habitat © Marco Verch
tableatny Polar Bear populations are declining in part due to low cub survival rates © Tableatney

Higher temperatures in the Arctic, which are warming at twice the global rate, have contributed to massive ice loss. Polar bears, which depend on this ice for their survival, have suffered as a result and are now on the Endangered Species List.

The first thousand people to take the pledge, which asks signers to raise awareness for the threatened polar bear species by voicing their concerns via social media, will have an acre in the Peruvian Amazon saved in their honor. All participants will be entered in a drawing to win a Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T jacket.

The acres saved will be in Peru’s Sierra del Divisor rainforest. Rainforest Trust is working there with Peruvian partner CEDIA (Center for the Development of an Indigenous Amazon) to protect 6 million acres of pristine Amazon wilderness. This rainforest stores a billion tons of carbon – an amount equal to the average annual emissions of all the vehicles on the road in the United States – and provides habitat for countless plant and animal species. It also faces imminent threats from oil development, road and pipeline construction, and illegal logging.

“The link between rainforest and polar bear protection may not be immediately apparent but they are very real,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager at Rainforest Trust. “Our campaign is a great reminder of the interconnectedness of all life systems on our planet. This is a win-win situation: by saving rainforests and biodiversity in the tropics we are helping to protect a future for the world’s remaining polar bears. I hope you will join us as every acre saved makes a difference.”

To donate or learn more about this campaign, visit www.rainforesttrust.org/polarbearpledge.

About Rainforest Trust

Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 85 projects across 22 countries.

Media contacts:

Marc Ford, Rainforest Trust
info@rainforesttrust.org
1-800-456-4930

Megan McMonagle
megan.mcmonagle@rfbinder.com
212-994-7612

A Plan to Protect Rio de Janeiro’s Rainforests While Time Remains

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By Nicholas Locke

Rio de Janeiro, with its seafront apartments vying for spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, is one of the most iconic cities in the world. The city’s interior has largely been forgotten; however, its verdant forests are steadily turning into an urban chaos.

Things were much different 150 years ago when Charles Darwin rode on horseback through the area. Stunned by the natural beauty around him, he wrote:

“Delight itself is too a weak term to express the feelings of a naturalist who for the first time, has wandered by himself in a Brazilian forest. The elegance of the grasses, the novelty of the parasitical plants, the beauty of the flowers, the glossy green of the foliage, but above all the general luxuriance of the vegetation filled me with admiration.”

Raysa Lima Forest surrounding Rio de Janeiro © Raysa Lima  
Marco Verch Metropolis sprawl © Marco Verch

Despite encroaching development, the forested Serra do Mar mountains surrounding the city are still in relatively good condition – but that may not be the case for long.

A management plan is urgently needed to ensure the protection of these mountains and their forests before the sprawling metropolis reaches them.

While enacting such a plan may seem daunting, we know from experience at the REGUA reserve (located less than 60 miles from Rio) that success is feasible. The consistent efforts we’ve made over the last 15 years prove that the consolidation of green areas around Rio is possible.

REGUA is not the only organization focused on protecting these areas. There are a handful of other similarly-minded projects focused on the same mission. Inspired by London’s Metropolitan Green Belt, which was created in the 1960’s, I made contact with these organizations and suggested that we develop an action plan to do something similar in Rio.

If successful, the outcome of such a project would be tremendous. There are millions of seedlings ready to be planted and the green belt project offers vast opportunities for income generation.

To begin, we have decided to concentrate efforts in the Duque de Caxias Municipality, which has approximately 125 square miles in need of reforestation. This project would act as the first link in Rio’s new green belt.

The immediate reaction to this plan from the key players has been incredibly positive. This is not entirely surprising considering the recent wild fires and droughts that have hit major cities in southeast Brazil.

Leading the new project in Duque de Caxias is Thais Corral. Thais gained invaluable forestry experience while establishing the “Adapta Sertao” project in northeast Brazil, which generated international recognition for its success in organizing economically disadvantaged communities around environmental objectives.

Thais’s experience in building working relationships with government agencies and implementing environmental agendas is most valuable, and her decision to begin the new project “Sinal do Vale” in Duque de Caxias could not come at a better time.

This is very much a forward-looking initiative and it will certainly have lasting results in Rio de Janeiro and beyond.

Rainforest Trust, Partners Offer New Protection for World’s Largest Wetland

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Warrenton, VA – In time for World Wetlands Day, Rainforest Trust and Panthera Brazil, have completed purchase of a 24,640-acre ranch that will be converted into a wildlife reserve protecting Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland.

Home to the planet’s highest density of Jaguars, the Pantanal in southwestern Brazil serves as one of the most critical conservation landscapes for the elusive big cat. As a critical link in a Jaguar corridor across Central and South America, the new reserve will play a strategic role in protecting not only the Pantanal’s Jaguars but other diverse wildlife populations, as well, including Hyacinth Macaws, Giant Otters and South American Tapirs.

aquasquare Pantanal Jaguar © Jeff Zack  
Andrea Schieber - Copy Hyacinth Macaw © Larry Thompson
1280px-Springtamarin - Copy Giant Otter © Larry Thompson

Situated near the Cuiaba River, the reserve will serve as a base for scientists to implement a conservation project for Jaguars that will focus on mitigating human-jaguar conflict, establishing new model conservation ranches, developing guidelines for and establishing Jaguar eco-tourism operations, and continuing the long-term monitoring of Jaguars in the Pantanal.

“We are extremely grateful to all our donors that have helped to secure one of the most important sites for Jaguars in the Americas,” said Rainforest Trust CEO, Dr. Paul Salaman. “With only a fraction of the Pantanal protected and numerous threats facing the survival of the Jaguar, this strategic land acquisition heralds a major conservation victory for all wildlife found in the region.”

Today, Jaguars in the Pantanal and throughout Latin America are threatened by loss and fragmentation of habitat; direct hunting by people, like ranchers, who view the species as a threat to their livelihoods; and lack of natural prey due to overhunting by local people.

When available, the purchase of land in regions like the Pantanal is a proven and surefire strategy to protect wildlife like Jaguars, and the thousands of flora and fauna with which they share their home. Implementation of replicable conservation ranches on such land, where humans and jaguars coexist, further protects threatened species.

This project was made possible thanks to the generous support of Duncan and Ellen McFarland, Luanne Lemmer and Eric Veach, Brett Byers, and many other donors.

Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on purchasing and protecting threatened rainforests for endangered species. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved nearly 8 million acres of rainforests and other tropical habitats in 20 countries by partnering with local conservation leaders and indigenous communities.