A Real Plan for Tiger Protection

By Leif Cocks, President of Yayasan Konservasi Ekosistem Hutan Sumatera (KEHUS)
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Sumatran Tigers are in vital need of protection. Numbering less than 400, these tigers – the last of the Sunda Tiger subspecies – are now fighting for survival.

Yayasan Konservasi Ekosistem Hutan Sumatera (KEHUS), our grassroots non-profit in Sumatra, is actively working with Rainforest Trust and local communities to secure three leases in Sumatra’s Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem for Sumatran Tigers.

With the support of Rainforest Trust, KEHUS will conserve over 200,000 acres of lowland rainforest for Sumatran Tigers and other threatened species.

Experience has shown that land protection alone, however, is not enough to save tigers. With this in mind, we have developed a comprehensive protection plan, including the use of monitoring programs and the creation of Wildlife Protection Units (WPUs), which will provide extensive on-the-ground protection.

The first step is monitoring tiger populations to get an idea of how many species remain unprotected.

Camera trap surveys conducted within the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape have already helped us with this; We now know that 12 adult Tigers and three cubs live in and use the habitat we propose to protect.

Photos of these tigers have been analyzed by stripe pattern and sex to allow us to distinguish individuals. The resulting data is compiled and examined using spatial models, to estimate population density.

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Camera traps are not the only tool we have to protect tigers. The Wildlife Protection Units (WPUs) funded by KEHUS will be responsible for patrolling the leased properties. Composed of well-trained wildlife rangers, WPUs will prevent illegal logging while securely protecting wildlife populations.

In addition, WPU employees educate local people about anti-poaching laws gather information about illegal activities, file violation reports with the forestry police, and collect wildlife data as an evaluation tool for ecosystem conditions.

With the help of forest guards, tiger poaching in the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape has decreased; however, tigers now face other threats as sources of prey continue to decline due to human hunting. Without stable sources of prey, Sumatran Tiger populations will continue to decrease. We are developing new strategies to decrease ungulate poaching and allow tiger densities to rebound.

Although threats to Sumatran Tigers will always remain, we strongly believe that our protection plan, which is based on our extensive field experience in Sumatra,
can provide these incredible creatures with the real protection they need to rebound.

Sierra del Divisor Update: Final Stage of National Park Creation Reached

Creation of the Sierra del Divisor National Park is one step closer today.

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By Dr. Paul Salaman, CEO Rainforest Trust

We are delighted to report that the Minister of the Environment of Peru, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal Otaróla, has presented the case for the establishment of the Sierra del Divisor National Park at the weekly inter-departmental meeting of Peru’s ministers and the President of Peru today.

After approval by Peru’s ministers, the permanent declaration of the new park will then just be pending the final approval and signature of Peru’s President, Ollanta Humala.

Rainforest Trust’s Peruvian conservation partner CEDIA has been working for two years to create the Sierra del Divisor National Park and has importantly secured the support of indigenous communities surrounding the proposed park. Since May, CEDIA has highlighted the area’s conservation importance in various media outlets, including television and newspapers.

CEDIA also hosted a major event the second week of July for all the local communities of the Tapiche and Blanco rivers involving the regional government of Loreto that drew attention to the need to designate the Sierra del Divisor a national park.

Climbing from an immense plain of unbroken rainforest, the Sierra del Divisor Mountain Range stretches more than 600 miles along the Peru-Brazil Border in the heart of the Amazon Basin.

Complete with plunging waterfalls, dormant volcanic cones, wild rivers, pristine forests and uncontacted tribes, this largely unknown and unexplored range is one of the Amazon’s last true wildernesses. The region, which is home to a biological community rich in rare and threatened species, is one of the highest conservation priorities in Peru.

The Sierra del Divisor, however, faces imminent threats from oil and mining development, road and pipeline construction, over-fishing and illegal logging. Unchecked, these threats could destroy the area in a matter of years.

To permanently protect the Sierra del Divisor and the biodiverse lands surrounding it, Rainforest Trust is working with CEDIA to establish protected areas and indigenous reserves that will span 5.9 million acres.

To learn more visit Rainforest Trust’s Sierra del Divisor project page.

Ecuadorian Andes Yield New Plant Species

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A new plant species was recently discovered in the Ecuadorian Andes by a team of scientists in the Tapichalaca Reserve. The reserve, which is located on the eastern slope of the Andes in the Zamora-Chinchipe Province, is operated by Rainforest Trust’s conservation partner Fundación Jocotoco.

Burmeistera zamorensis is part of a Neotropical genus composed of 111 species that are distributed from Guatemala to Peru. The genus Burmeistera reaches its highest endemism and diversity in the Andes.

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The flowers of Burmeistera zamorensis serve as a food source for several nectar bats. They bloom at night and attract the bats with a strong, musky odor. The new plant is distinguished from other plants in the Burmeistera genus by its leaf arrangement and the maroon coloring on the underside of its leaves.

At present, Burmeistera zamorensis is only found in the Tapichalaca Reserve and appears to be relatively rare, although its total distribution still remains unknown. More studies are needed to understand its conservation risk.

Rainforest Trust has played an active role in expanding the Tapichalaca Reserve for 15 years. Recognizing its role as a stronghold of biological diversity in southern Ecuador, Rainforest Trust has helped Fundación Jocotoco to expand the reserve by 2,473 acres, safeguarding many rare species.

New Hope for Madagascar’s Imperiled Wildlife

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Rainforest Trust and Madagascan partner create seven new reserves to save remaining populations of Indri Lemurs and other critically endangered endemic wildlife.

WARRENTON, VA, July 16, 2015 — The successful creation of seven new reserves across Madagascar’s highly endangered coastal rainforest has been announced by Rainforest Trust, a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving threatened land and endangered species, and Madagasikara Voakajy, Rainforest Trust’s Madagascan conservation partner.

Madagascar’s Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo signed decrees on June 16, 2015 for the creation of seven reserves spanning 74,816 acres. The decrees halt imminent threats from mining companies and logging interests that have jeopardized some of Eastern Madagascar’s most important and unprotected rainforests.

These new reserves provide a vital habitat for several lemur species designated Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This includes the Indri, the largest of all lemurs in size and one of the 25 most threatened primates in the world, as well as the Diademed Sifaka, which is so sensitive to habitat disturbance that it readily abandons areas suffering even minor degradation.

Madagascar’s 101 lemur species and subspecies are considered the most threatened mammal group in the world. Ninety percent are threatened with extinction and experts warn that many could be extinct in 25 years if natural environments in Madagascar continue to disintegrate at current rates.

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“By protecting population strongholds of various lemur species, such as the Indri, Aye-aye, Fossa, Tarzan Chameleon and Madagascan Flying Fox, Rainforest Trust and Madagasikara Voakajy will help save these unique species from extinction,” said Rainforest Trust CEO Dr. Paul Salaman.

Of the planet’s major biodiversity hotspots, few compare to the island of Madagascar. Over 80 percent of its flora and fauna are not found anywhere else. Unfortunately, Madagascar’s ecosystems are considered one of the most threatened on the planet: Over half of the island’s forests have been destroyed since 1950 and only 20 percent remain.

“This is indeed a great day for the spectacular and wondrous wildlife of Madagascar,” added Salaman. “We are proud to be working with our partner Madagasikara Voakajy in protecting so many unique and highly endangered species spanning seven great new nature reserves.”

Although the island’s forests face a variety of threats, destruction is primarily driven by small-scale slash and burn agriculture, firewood collection and charcoal production. Madagasikara Voakajy is working to fight this destruction with the help of the local communities. An inclusive conservation strategy ensures the permanent protection of the new reserves, reduces pressure on natural habitats, and improves human livelihoods for the local community.

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The organization has already succeeded in collaborating with surrounding communities to develop reserve management plans. Madagasikara Voakajy is also helping to stop destructive trends by teaching surrounding populations about the importance of conservation through educational activities and the creation of wildlife-themed festivals.

“The creation of these reserves is the result of a six-year process that has involved the close collaboration of a diverse group of stakeholders, including local communities, government entities, and private sector entities.” said Julie Hanta Razafimanahaka, Director of Madagasikara Voakajy. “Working together, we have found a sustainable conservation solution for some of Madagascar’s most threatened species.”

In addition to the seven lemur species this new protected area will protect, an essential habitat will also be provided for the IUCN Critically Endangered Golden Mantella, an endemic frog species whose entire range is less than 35 square miles. Over 60 percent of the remaining Golden Mantella population will now be protected within the new reserves.

Rainforest Trust wishes to thank the following donors for their generous support: Geoffrey Chen and Angela Huang, Eric Veach and Luanne Lemmer, Farallon Islands Foundation, Aqua-Firma Worldwide and an anonymous donor.

To see photos of the new reserves and the species they protect, visit Rainforest Trust’s Flickr Album.

Rainforest Trust is a nonprofit conservation organization focused on saving rainforest and endangered species in partnership with local conservation leaders and communities. Since its founding in 1988, Rainforest Trust has saved 8 million acres of rainforest and other tropical habitats and has 178 projects across 30 countries.

Madagasikara Voakajy is dedicated to biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources in Madagascar. Created in 2005, the organization uses applied research and conservation science to create reserves in areas that are vital for the survival of Madagascar’s threatened wildlife.

The governmental decrees for seven new reserves include: N°2015-724 for Ambatofotsy, N° 2015-725 for Mangabe-Ranomena-Sahasarotra, N°2015-726 for Ampotaka/Ankorabe, N°2015-748 for Mahialambo, N°2015-749 for Ampananganandehibe-Behasina, N°2015-750 for Analalava and N°2015-751 for Analabe.

Media contacts:

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

Samantha Cartagena, RF|Binder
samantha.cartagena@rfbinder.com