Third Year Students in Washington, DC Fundraise for the Rainforest

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WARRENTON, VA – May 14, 2015

By incorporating a series of innovative rainforest lessons and activities into her class’s curriculum, Saijal Patel, a third-grade teacher at the British School of Washington, is not just sharing the beauty of the rainforest with her students; she is helping them take action to protect its wonders.

Patel’s students began their studies by creating rainforest arts, crafts and displays in anticipation of a field trip to the Smithsonian National Zoo and U.S. Botanical Gardens in Washington, DC.

During their field trip, the students visited the Amazonia Exhibit, one of the largest and most complex rainforest exhibits in the world. Within the 25,000 square-foot rainforest habitat, students explored a living forest containing 350 species of plants, including 50-foot tall trees, tropical vines and epiphytes.

Jesse Lewis, Rainforest Trust’s education coordinator, joined Patel and her class on their trip to talk about tropical ecosystems and Rainforest Trust’s mission to protect them. Together they observed a variety of Amazonian animals, including Poison Dart Frogs, Silver-beaked Tanagers and Amazon River fish. Following their tour, Lewis led the students in a rainforest food web activity designed to teach children about the interconnected nature of rainforest plants and animals.

even-more-kidzVisiting the Amazonia exhibit at the National Zoo
© Will Thomas
kidzTropical Smoothie and Chocolate Sale 
© Jesse Lewis
more-kidzJesse with the students
© Jesse Lewis

Returning from their field trip, students found their classroom and rainforest displays wrecked; it was a symbolic act by Ms. Patel. “Their reaction was priceless. Some children immediately made the connection to the rainforests and they all agreed this should not happen to people’s homes, especially as rebuilding and cleaning up is not easy in the rainforest,” Ms. Patel said.

To protect the rainforest and the creatures that make it their home from being destroyed, Patel and her class organized a fundraiser to save rainforests acres in the Peruvian Amazon with Rainforest Trust. Teaming up with Jamba Juice, the students sold two tropical fruit smoothies for a week with proceeds going to Rainforest Trust’s Sierra del Divisor campaign.

Selling chocolate (cacao) and tropical fruit smoothies in the school cafeteria gave Patel’s students a chance to highlight the many connections between rainforest, rainforest foods, and the daily lives of many Americans.

In the end, Patel’s students raised over $600. Thanks to an anonymous match, the money raised will save over 2,400 acres of Amazon rainforest in Peru’s Sierra del Divisor. This biodiverse part of the Amazon is recognized as a critical hotspot for global biodiversity and provides habitat for species such as Jaguars, Uakari Monkeys and South American Tapirs.

Through their efforts the students learned of the many reasons rainforests are special and in need of protection.

“My students are more aware now of what to do to protect the environment,” said Patel. “They even wrote a newspaper article for the local paper to spread the message. Now they want to turn everything into a fundraiser!””

Contact Rainforest Trust to learn about how you or your class can participate in Rainforest Ambassador fundraisers and activities.

New Bird Species Found in Colombia’s Perija Reserve

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A year after the creation of the Chamicero de Perijá Nature Reserve in Colombia, a new bird species found there has been formally described. The Perija Tapaculo (Scytalopus perijanus) was discovered by a team of Colombia scientists, led by Jorge Avendaño and Alex Cortes, in the Reserve in 2014.

The Perijá Tapaculo is a small bird with a black belly, gray back, and brown nape, and its song and calls are distinctly different from those of other Tapaculos. Its high level of genetic divergence from its closest relatives suggests that its high mountain habitat has isolated it from its cousins for a significant amount of time.

The 1,850-acre Chamicero de Perijá Nature Reserve protects one of the best-preserved tracts of forest remaining in the Serranía de Perijá Mountain Range, an area straddling the border of northern Colombia and Venezuela.

Scytalopus- perija for web Perijá Tapaculo 
© Alonso Quevedo / ProAves
New Perija reserve (15) - for web          The Serranía de Perijá 
© ProAves
Perija Thistletail for webEndemic bird species: Perijá Thistletail   
© ProAves

Spanning an altitudinal gradient ranging from 5,000 feet to over 12,000 feet, the Serranía de Perijá is impressive not only for the many ecosystems it contains, but also for its biological richness and high levels of animal and plant endemism.

The Reserve conserves Andean subtropical and montane cloud forests, subpáramo and highland páramo habitats, all of which are critical for endangered wildlife. It also protects two watersheds that are vital for the city of Valledupar and several towns in the otherwise arid Department of Cesar.

In addition to the discovery of the new Perijá Tapaculo, scientists from ProAves registered almost 400 other bird species in the Reserve, including ten endemic species (some pending descriptions) and 35 endemic subspecies. Eight of the endemic bird species are considered in danger of extinction by IUCN.

The Reserve’s recent establishment is extremely timely, as up to 98 percent of the Serranía de Perijá has already been destroyed due to colonization and agricultural expansion.

Rainforest Trust collaborated with Colombian conservation partner ProAves to create the Chamicero de Perijá Nature Reserve in July of 2014.

The discovery of the Perijá Tapaculo species further establishes the Serrania de Perijá’s reputation as one of the least-known and most biologically-rich region in the Northern Andes, an area still holding many biological secrets.

 

Rainforest Trust Increases Million Acre Jaguar Initiative Goal to Save 3.3 Million Acres

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WARRENTON, VA – May 7, 2015

Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving threatened lands and endangered species, announced today that it has more than tripled the original funding goal for its Million Acre Jaguar Initiative.

The original target, which was to raise funds necessary to save one million acres, has been expanded to include 3.3 million acres by September 2015.

Rainforest Trust launched the initiative in September 2014 with the goal of creating nature reserves in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Peru to save critical Jaguar habitat.

Jaguars face an increasingly uncertain future as a result of massive habitat destruction, widespread hunting and loss of prey. The Jaguar population has decreased significantly throughout Latin America, leaving these magnificent animals in urgent need of assistance. For this reason, Rainforest Trust has been working closely with in-country conservation partners to protect these vulnerable areas through direct land purchase, as well as government designation of protected areas.

In February, Rainforest Trust successfully collaborated with conservation partner Panthera Brasil to purchase and protect a 24,640-acre ranch located in the heart of Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland.

thristy-jaguar-hd-desktop-wallpapers for web Jaguars face an uncertain future 
© Public Domain
Jaguars          Jaguar habitat in Brazil’s Pantanal 
© ProAves
giaguaro for webPopulations are decreasing across Latin America  
© ProAves

Home to the planet’s highest density of Jaguars, the Pantanal 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 not only protecting the Pantanal’s Jaguars, but also other diverse wildlife populations, including Hyacinth Macaws, Giant Otters and South American Tapirs.

In recent months Rainforest Trust has also completed its funding goals for new Jaguar reserves in Guatemala and Colombia.

Collaborating with conservation partner FUNDAECO in Guatemala, Rainforest Trust plans to create a 142,646-acre protected area in the biodiverse Sierra Santa Cruz Mountain Range that will provide habitat for Jaguars, Baird’s Tapirs and other endangered wildlife species.

In Colombia, Rainforest Trust is working with local partner ProAves to protect a population of Jaguars that has been isolated by rainforest destruction in central Colombia. The population is increasingly threatened by rapidly expanding oil palm plantations. Together, Rainforest Trust and ProAves will create a 4,164-acre reserve that will protect a rich mix of forest and wetland.

Rainforest Trust continues to raise funds to create the Sierra del Divisor National Park in Peru. The Sierra del Divisor project, which will protect an important habitat corridor for Jaguars, is a multi-year initiative originally launched in September 2013. In less than half the time expected, Rainforest Trust has raised over 98 percent of the necessary funding to create the 5.9 million acre reserve. Most of the acres conserved by the Million Acre Jaguar Initiative are located within the Sierra del Divisor.

“We are thrilled with the support we’ve received in the eight months since we launched the Million Acre Jaguar Initiative and are pleased to increase the funding challenge to 3.3 million acres,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager at Rainforest Trust. “This initiative will not only help to preserve critical Jaguar habitat, but also the long-term health of many ecosystems.”

To donate or learn more about this project visit http://www.rainforesttrust.org/project/urgent-appeals/jaguar.

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.

The Secret Lives of Palawan’s Endemic Mammals

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The results of a recent mammal study from Palawan have revealed an astonishing array of endemic mammal species caught on camera for the first time ever in the wild.

The extensive camera trap study led by the Centre for Sustainability is the first of its kind on the Philippines island of Palawan. Focusing on intact ecosystems near Cleopatra’s Needle, one of the island’s highest peaks, the study has provided biologists with invaluable data on Palawan’s elusive mammals, many of which are found no-where else.

As Palawan’s forests slowly declines and hunting pressure increase, the island’s unique mammals need protection more than ever. However, without understanding the biology of these species, conservation targets for protecting them remain undefined. Species such as the Palawan Pangolin are under severe threat due to high demand for their meat and scales, which are thought to possess medicinal value in China.

Using battery operated, waterproof cameras with remote sensors and night vision, the team collected candid photos and video of a diverse and intact mammal community.

In addition to rare species like the Palawan Pangolin and Palawan Leopard Cat, all of Palawan’s larger endemic mammal species were recorded. This includes: the Asian Small-Clawed Otter, Palawan Porcupine, Crab-Eating Macaque, Palawan Bearded Pig, Palawan Bearcat, with many smaller mammals in abundance.

Asian Masked Palm Civet for web Asian Masked Palm Civet 
© Centre for Sustainability
Cleopatra's Needle for web          Cleopatra’s Needle 
© Robin Moore
Pangolin for webPalawan Pangolin  
© Centre for Sustainability

By collecting data on species diversity, abundance and dispersal across the Cleopatra’s Needle forests, the study is helping scientists glimpse into the secret lives of Palawan’s mammals. The data collected will also be used to develop conservation strategies tailored to each species.

Located between the South China and Sulu Seas, the Philippine island of Palawan contains one of the oldest, largest, and most diverse rainforest left in Southeast Asia. This forest covers over half the island and is a refuge for a remarkable concentration of endemic and endangered species found nowhere else.

To prevent the destruction of Palawan’s forests and protect the many endemics found there, Rainforest Trust is partnering with Palawan’s Centre for Sustainability to create an 80,000-acre Cleopatra’s Needle Forest Reserve. In addition to safeguarding the region’s forest biodiversity, the reserve will also protect the homeland of the Batak people, one of Palawan’s disappearing tribes.

Until recently, Palawan’s relatively small population put limited pressure on its natural ecosystems, but threats from logging, hunting and rapid urbanization now pose serious challenges. Among Palawan’s most threatened ecosystems are the spectacular forests surrounding the 5,256-foot Cleopatra’s Needle.

The forests of Cleopatra’s Needle contain diverse habitats including steep valleys covered with dense broadleaf forest, intact cloud forest on the peaks, riverine forest along creeks, swamps and dense mangroves along the river banks. It is the last safe haven for countless endemic species, and functions as an important corridor for wildlife crossing the island.

“As this is possibly the largest remaining intact primary forest in the Philippines, the results of this camera trap study demonstrate the richness of this area for biodiversity and highlight the importance of conserving the forests of Cleopatra’s Needle to protect Palawan’s endemic mammals,” said Christine Hodgdon, International Conservation Manager for Rainforest Trust.