EWCL Class 4 Project Summaries

 

Lion Project
Kenya’s lion population has decreased to less than 2,000 individuals, and could become regionally extinct within 20 years (Africa Geographic Magazine, August 2011). The EWCL Lion group is partnering with Ewaso Lions to enhance ongoing research and promote the conservation of lions in the Ewaso Nyiro ecosystem of northern Kenya. An innovative citizenscience program called “Lion Watch” is currently being developed through this partnership. A key component of “Lion Watch” is to train local wildlife guides to accurately identify and monitor all of the lions in the region using state‐of‐the‐art technology. Existing data on lions in the region and data collected in the field by the “Lion Watch” guides will be uploaded to a website (www.lionwatch.org). The website will help Ewaso Lions monitor the health of the lion population in the region and engage tourists and locals in lion research and conservation activities..

Radiated Tortoise Project
As an iconic species of southern Madagascar, the Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) is only one of four endemic species of tortoises on the island. The Radiated Tortoise has experienced drastic declines in its abundance over recent years stemming from illegal poaching for bushmeat, the pet trade, and deforestation of its spiny forest habitat. The life history characteristics of this species make it extremely vulnerable, and therefore this species is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Underlying the primary threats to the Radiated Tortoise was a widespread lack of awareness about the decline of the species, the cultural and ecological importance of the species, the risks of over-harvesting, and the local and international laws protecting the species. Our conservation campaign centered on addressing critical information needs to build knowledge about the primary threats to tortoises at both local and regional levels, focusing on villages in the Southern region that play a critical role in the conservation of this species. This was accomplished through three campaign strategies including 1) the design, development, and distribution of educational materials including a husbandry manual, educational workbook, cartoon, posters, and wristbands, 2) supporting and organizing local educational outreach efforts including local law enforcement training and community events, and 3) supporting the collaborative efforts of conservation groups working in the region through grant writing support as well as the design, development, and distribution of a campaign logo and a Campaign Handbook.

Bats Project
The focus for the EWCL Bat Conservation Team was to develop guidelines for the sustainable harvest of bat guano. For as ecologically important as they are, bats are highly misunderstood. Their numbers are dropping worldwide, invasive guano harvesting being one of the culprits. With the guidance of Bat Conservation International, the team decided to focus their energies on the Southeast Asia region. In forming, then collaborating with an advisory committee of international bat specialists, a set of draft guidelines were developed, adapted into posters for educational outreach use, and tested at two field sites in Cambodia. This work was presented at a conference hosted by the Southeast Asian Bat Conservation Research Unit and was enthusiastically received. In order to continue to improve this work and make it universally applicable, a research agenda was created and will be made accessible on a forthcoming online resource page.

Slow Loris Project
Four of the five Nycticebus (slow loris) species are listed by the IUCN as vulnerable, and the Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus) is listed as endangered, due to habitat loss and overexploitation.  In collaboration with the Thai non-profit, FREELAND, the EWCL Slow Loris Group carried out an investigative training program for Thai and Lao law enforcement to combat the rampant illegal trade of the slow loris species in Southeast Asia.

The training was conducted in the slow loris trade hub of Pattaya, Thailand in March of 2012.  The training supported and empowered eleven officers responsible for enforcing wildlife laws and included technical training from former enforcement officers on investigation strategies and tools, and specific information on slow loris identification, handling, and deposition of confiscated animals.  The workshop was hosted and facilitated by FREELAND along with the EWCL Slow Loris Group, who specifically created wildlife trade educational materials, presented on the slow loris, and provided logistical as well as funding support through grant writing.  The training resulted in the arrest of two slow loris traders and local media covered the arrest.

Following the training, the EWCL Slow Loris Group worked with Dr. Anne Nekaris, recognized loris expert based out of the United Kingdom, to develop social media materials for use by the Little Fireface Project, a public awareness and advocacy project committed to stopping the illegal trade of lorises.