Wildlife Conservation News



 
Wildlife and our last remaining wild places are being destroyed because of human action or inaction and because of our own short –term greed.

Peter Fearnhead, CEO, African Parks Network, South Africa


 

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  1. As a member of the National Trust, I receive its magazine.

    One of the things the Spring 2020 magazine covers was climate change and what the Trust is doing to care for the places in its care as they are affected by it.

    Things like daffodils appearing earlier; rope bridges being closed to visitors more frequently because of high winds; paintings being affected by the temperatures in the summer all point to a changing climate.  Houses close because of the heat, since it affects collections and the fabric of the building.  More pests and diseases are having an impact on the plants in the garden. 

    Together they make a picture that’s uneasy and that the Trust is trying to deal with.  

    The National Trust itself is taking measures to tackle climate change, such as a renewable energy investment programme. It’s pledged to reduce its use of fossil fuels by 50% by 2021.  It’s creating or restoring 25,000 hectares of natural habitats because areas such as wetland and woodland can capture and store thousands of tonnes of carbon. 

    And the Trust has created Fit for the Future, which brings together some of the UK’s largest charities and landowners to fight the impact of climate change and rising energy costs.

    So there’s lots the National Trust is doing, but as it points out, we all need to start lowering our impact on the world and start making changes.

    Find out how the National Trust is tackling climate change

     

    The National Trust says there are five easy ways to make a difference are:

    1. Waste less – less food, less energy and less water
    2. Turn heating down and layer up (this is something Polar Bears International ask us all to do – they even have a Thermostat Challenge)
    3. Use an online carbon calculator to find out your carbon footprint and to work out how you can reduce it. 
    4. Can you walk, bike, car share or use public transport?
    5. Get involved in Leap for Nature on 29 February and make a promise for nature this year.

    Read the National Trust's 2019 wildlife and weather reviewRead the National Trust's 2019 wildlife and weather review

    A great and truly giving way to help them is to dig deep and be willing to make changes ourselves to help wildlife. Do it for the koalas, the polar bears, the penguins, the puffins…. your favourite wildlife...

     
  2. There’s a programme on Channel 4 tonight (Monday 3 February 2020) at 8pm that I’m not sure I really want to watch, but I can’t help feeling I should.  

    I am watching it and there are graphic images and footage, just to warn you.

    Australia on Fire:  Climate Emergency is the story of the battle to save Australia form the bushfires.  It includes first-hand accounts from firefighters on the front line, and looks at the long-term impact of the fires on the animal population and ecology.

    Drone footage show the extent of the devastation.

    There’s also coverage of those who just escaped their burning properties – and we hear from those who have gone back to properties that are burnt out.

    Thank you to all those everywhere who fought the fires and worked so hard and continue to work hard to help the animals in Australia.

    The GoFundMe fundraiser for Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is still going (up to $7.7 million) and you can still donate to make a difference to Australian wildlife.

     

  3. Back in 1971 on 2 February, the Convention on Wetlands was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar which sits on the shores of the Caspian Sea

    Today, the 2nd February is a really important day for people and wildlife, because it’s a chance to highlight how important wetlands are to us all. They are where land meets sea.  The 2nd February is World Wetlands Day. 

    This year, the theme is “Wetlands and Biodiversity”, is an opportunity to highlight the importance of wetland biodiversity conservation.

    Where are wetlands?

    Wetlands cover areas such as shores, estuaries, mudflats, floodplains, coastal marshes, local ponds, the bog and pond in your garden, mangrove swamps, seagrass beds, and rivers.  They cover a very small of the earth’s surface – and yet they are one of the most important habitats on our planet. 


    "If rainforests are the lungs of the planet, then wetlands are the lifeblood.  As much as we need air to breathe, we need water to live.   The conservation of our wetlands is essential to all life on earth.”  WWT

    Why wetlands matter to people:

    • They provide us with drinking water
    • They store a third of the world’s carbon emissions
    • They buffer us from floods and droughts
    • They are important for our health and wellbeing

    Why do wetlands matter to wildlife?

    40% of all plant and animal species live or breed here.

    They are vital breeding and feeding grounds for migratory birds – stopover points, if you like. Banc d’Arguin National Park (Mauritania) is one of the most important zones in the world for nesting birds and Palearctic migratory waders, Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I) (China).  These birds use wetlands such as our coastlines to stop, moult, rest, winter or nest.  

    Pantanal Conservation Area (Brazil) is one of the world's largest freshwater wetland ecosystems.

    Sundarbans National Park (India) is formed of tidal rivers, creeks and canals and supports species such as the single largest population of tiger, and aquatic mammals such as the Irrawaddy and Ganges River dolphins, all under threat.

    So what’s happening to wetlands in our changing world?

     A recent global IPBES assessment identified wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem. This impacts 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands.

    Our wetlands are threatened by:

    • Pollution
    • Climate change
    • Dams
    • Over-exploitation

    Beavering away to address these problems are organisations such as the World Heritage Centre. An example of its work is the Okavango Delta which has incredible biodiversity but is threatened thanks to development pressure.  It’s home to indigenous peoples and wildlife such as the cheetah, white rhinos, black rhinos, lion and the African  wild dog.  In 2019, the State Parties of Namibia, Botswana and Angola agreed a roadmap to explore the boundary extension of the World Heritage Site here to protect the river basin and the unique wetland system.

    In the UK, there’s the WWT –Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust but of course its work extends well beyond the UK.

    WWT say that:

    Between 1970 and 2014, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptile species declined by a dreadful 60%

    In the last 400 years, England has lost 90% of her wetlands

    30% of known fish species, many at risk amphibians and reptiles, migratory and resident water birds,, and thousands of plant species life here.

    However, the WWT is working hard to create, protect and restore – it believes we can reverse the decline and bring wetlands back to life. Its conservation projects strengthen the link between wetlands, wildlife and people, both in the UK and further afield.  Find out more about their plans for 2020

     At their Llanelli wetland centre, they created new islands, nest boxes, rafts, scrapes and pools.  This gave waterbirds such as the lapwing somewhere to breed.  Find out more here



    At Slimbridge, they have just had two spoon-billed sandpipers have just hatched (after 8 years of trying)!   This is really good news – breeding pairs worldwide are under 200.  The chicks are the size of bumblebees, so that gives you an idea of how small the birds are!

    So what can we all do to help wetland conservation?

     WWT can create new wetlands in a few months and years – so your support can really make a difference quickly.  But there’s something we can all do to help and you’ll find more links and further resources further down. 

    • Create a pond in your garden, local area or school
    • Visit a wetland close to you and spend time there.   Use your senses while you visit.  Listen to the sounds you can hear; look at the sights, smell the scents.
    • Support the conservation work of your local wetlands charity
    • Volunteer for local wetland charities
    • Donate to wetland charities – look out for their appeals
    • Become a member and find out more
    • Spread the word about wetlands and follow #WetlandBiodiversityMatters to see what’s happening
    • Adopt an animal as a gift – you can adopt a swan, duck, crane from the WWT




    Further Resources

    World Wetland Network – a collection of NGOs and Civil Society Groups all working for wetland conservation

    Wetland Link International – a support network for wetland education centres which deliver engagement activities on site.  The WWT in the UK lead it; it has 350 members over 6 continents!

    RAMSAR –  The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. 

    World Wetlands Day – held every year on 2 February to raise awareness of the importance of wetlands and how we can all help

    WWT – the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in the UK.   Visit one of their 10 sites around the UK and/or visit their website to see how you can get involved.

    The Global Wetland Outlook – take a look, it’s fascinating reading

     

  4. The lush rainforest runs along the Atlantic coast and inland in southern Brazil.  It is home to many species and plants which are not found anywhere else on earth. 

    The problem for wildlife is....

    Sadly, a mere 12% of this huge landscape now persists in very fragmented pockets.  Towns, pastures and intensive farming have replaced the rainforest.  

    Many species living there are threatened with extinction as they are living in small fragmented areas and so are becoming increasingly isolated.  These include the black lion tamarin, the jaguar, ocelot and puma.

    One way to solve this problem...

    The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has an Atlantic Rainforest appeal which is aiming to create wildlife corridors and so joining fragmented areas of rainforest up.

    From small things do great things grow....
    From small things do great things grow....
    ©Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

    Durrell wants to protect this ecosystem by creating wildlife corridors to join up the fragmented bits. They will do this by planting trees to connect the Morro do Diabo State Park to isolated forest fragments to the north, thus reconnecting wildlife.

    In doing this project, Durrell is working with their partners at the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas (IPE).

    You can help restore this rainforest by planning 17,000 trees and in creating sustainable livelihoods for local people and neutralize about 2,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

    The trees will be planted in community nurseries, planted by local people – so giving them sustainable livelihoods.  People and wildlife will win through this project.

    Help wildlife such as the black lion tamarin, the jaguar, the puma, and ocelot
    Help wildlife such as the black lion tamarin, the jaguar, the puma, and ocelot
    ©Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

    Durrell say that:

    • £25 will help the local community plant five trees and nurture them for 5 years
    • £500 will run a community nursery for a week
    • £15,000 will pay for a forest and community officer to oversee the pojrect for a year
    • £85,000 will rebuild 1,000 metres of wildlife corridor connection forest fragments.

    Every £ counts!  

    Join in the appeal to create wildlife corridors to help wildlife thriveJoin in the appeal to create wildlife corridors to help wildlife thrive
    ©Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

    Donate here

     

  5. Did you know that the National Trust is helping its partner, the National Trust of Australia, to help Australian wildlife recover after the terrible bushfires in Australia?

    A lot of the animals climb trees to escape the flames below - and when they get down again, they get serious burns on their feet.  They need treatment and regular bandage changes for months, food and water.  And a big challenge facing the hospital and sanctuary is that there is no home for the animals to return to when they are better - it has been destroyed by fire.



    They are helping to raise awareness of the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, which is caring for many animals with burns and dehydration.

    As a result of the drought and wildfires, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital has experienced about a 20% increase in admissions from in and around the fire zones.  They are working to treat, rehabilitate and release wildlife – wildlife who are sick, injured and orphaned.

    Help Australian wildlife - Buy a Tree
    Help Australian wildlife - Buy a Tree
    ©Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

    In 2019, over 12,000 animals were admitted to the hospital – including 600 koalas.

    You can help the hospital help wildlife by making a donation

    Buy a Walkways for WildlifeBuy a Walkways for Wildlife
    ©Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

    Visit the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital’s website here.