Our blog & news: Get involved to help wildlife


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world;
indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." 
Margaret Mead, American anthropologist, 1901-1978

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  1. The British Birdwatching Fair takes place every August. 

    Birdfair takes place between 17th and 19th August 2018 in Rutland, the smallest county in the UK.    

    This year, bird lovers in the UK support the creation of largest Argentina’s National Park!

    Let me tell you more.

    The fifth largest salt lake in the world, Mar Chiquita is South America’s second largest water body.  And it’s home to most of the world’s Chilean flamingo (about 318,000 of them, they are Nearly Threatened) and nearly half of its Andean Flamingo (18,000 in winter (Vulnerable) and Puna Flamingo as well (and they’re Near Threatened).

    Mar Chiquita is home to about 318,000 Chilean flamingos

    ©Pablo Rodriguez Merkel
    Mar Chiquita is home to about 318,000 Chilean flamingos

    In addition, there are tens of thousands of American Golden Plover, White-rumped and Lesser Yellowlegs who migrate here.

    Oh, and don’t forget the 600,000 Wilson's Phalaropes – about a third of the world’s population.

    So let’s move away from the Little Sea (as Mar Chiquita means) to grasslands.  These are home to the Greater Rhea, Bearded Tachuri, a Maned Wolf and Sickle-winged Nightjar (Near Threatened).  The swampy areas have  Dot-winged Crake, and Dinelli's Doradito, while Crowned Solitary Eagles Buteogallus coronatus fly over Chaco forest.

    Absolutely stunning...

    Mar Chiquita has all the credentials but...

    Mar Chiquita is a Ramsar Site, one of Argentina's top Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA), a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and a provincial reserve so you would have thought that would keep it safe.

    Unfortunately dear reader, that is not the case.  It’s in danger. Why?  Well, the human race is at it again.

    • Water extracted from the lake at an unsustainable lake
    • The lake is polluted, thanks to local industry
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Above average deforestation rate
    • Unregulated tourism.

    And action is needed urgently.  Which is where the supporters of Birdfair in the UK come in and the human race is working to put things right.  

    Aves Argentinas is a partner of BirdLife International.  It has undertaken bird surveys, raised awareness, improved management of the area and clarified land ownership at Mar Chiquita for years.

    Then came its light bulb moment – a plan to create what should become Argentina’s largest national park.

    Creating a national park to keep the area safe

    The plan has been developed with provincial and national authorities.  Back in 2017, a concordat was signed by Argentina’s environment minister, National Parks Administration and the governor of the Córdoba province.  And the Ansenuza National Park will protect up to 800,000 hectares which will be managed at the national level.

    Crucial to the plan is the involvement and engagement (how I hate that word but I can never think of another) of the local community.

    Planning involving them, empowering local stake holders and establishing a network of local conservation guardians has been a key part of Aves Argentina’s strategy from the start.

    And there’s more – bolstering the local economy through nature-based tourism is essential to the project’s success.  So the Ministry of Tourism is very pleased indeed. Ecotourism will lengthen the tourist seasons and help provide sustainable livelihoods over a wider area.  That should also help local communities commit to the long term conservation of the area.

    This is a Maned Wolf - they are also known as the fox on stilts!
    ©Spencer Wright
    This is a Maned Wolf - also dubbed the Fox on Stilts!  They live on nearby grassland.

    And the lake’s colloquial name in the national park title says a great deal.

    The British Birdwatching Fair helps in two key ways:

    Raising awareness

    An international event like this is vital in building political awareness back in Argentina as to why this area needs to be protected.  It will help build support from the bird world and show that the Ansenuza really is a birding paradise.

    As a bird lover, I want to go and see birds in a beautiful, natural environment.  I don’t want to go to see a polluted lake where a lot of the water has been sucked out and drive through an area where local forests have been destroyed to get there. 

    Raising funds to support the project

    In 2017, the theme was ‘Saving paradise in the Pacific’.  The aim was to remove invasive predators from the French Polynesian island of Rapa Iti.  Last year, Birdfair raised a jaw-dropping £333,000 was raised towards the work.

    The 2018 project is an ambitious one.   A project to create and protect a national park and all its wildlife, whilst helping locals through eco-tourism.  And surely a model for other conservation organisations to look at? 

    Useful links

    Visit the Birdfair website here.  It's been conserving nature worldwide since 1989.

    Aves Argentinas - I hope you speak Spanish!  But do take a look anyway.  

    BirdLife International - BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organisations (NGOs) that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity, working with people towards sustainability in the use of natural resources. 121 BirdLife Partners worldwide.

  2. Did you know that the World Bank is involved in tiger conservation?

    Who would have thought that all those financiers had a passion for our stripy four pawed friends?

    Back in 2008, the World Bank joined the Global Environment Facility, the Smithsonian Institution, Save the Tiger Fund and the International Tiger Coalition (which represents over 40 non-government organisations.  And the Global Tiger Initiative was launched.   It’s led by the 13 tiger range countries.

    In November 2010, leaders of these tiger range countries got together in St Petersburg in Russia.   At this International Tiger Forum, they adopted the St Petersburg Declation on Tiger Conservation.  And they endorced the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.

    The goal of this programme was to double the number of wild tigers across their area by 2022.  This would take the number of tigers from 3,200 to over 7,000.

    Tiger Initiative

    Progress has been made in many tiger range countries:

    • A 2 week hands-on training for over 800 wildlife conservation professionals was launched.  These are from national parks and protected areas in South East Asia.  The idea is that they share best practice which could help all the tiger range countries.  What’s worked to increase the number of tigers?  What hasn’t?
    • In India, population numbers of tigers have gone up just a whisker over 30% from 2010 to 2015
    • Nepal has done even better, with a 60% increase in tiger numbers between 2009 and 2012.
    • Crucially, livelihoods provided under the World Bank/GEF India Ecodevelopment Project led to a group of poachers giving up the practice in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala.
    • The Bangladesh Forest Department did a census of Bengal tigers, using the data they got to monitor the size and density of tiger populations in the Bangladesh Sundarbans.
    • 30 Bangladesh forestry department officials undertook a certificate training course on wildlife management at the Wildlife Institute of India. Over 800 forest department officials have had in-country training.
    • 34 subprojects have been implemented on habitat improvement, eco-tourism development and human-wildlife conflict mitigation.

    So what challenges lie ahead for tigers??

    •  Threats to Habitats and Connectivity will get worse with rapid infrastructure development and the investment in extractive industries
    • Poaching and Wildlife Crime Control, especially to monitor trends.
    • Capacity Building and making sure there are enough resources to boost current efforts and also to develop national centres of excellence.
    • Scientific Monitoring – results must be monitored so that the right interventions can be made. An example is pinpointing poaching corridors around the world.
    • Eliminating the demand for tiger products. .
    • Rebuilding Tiger Populations – it is vital to share current experience and knowledge on how to rebuild tiger populations.

    You can find out more here from the jaws of the World Bank itself

    We need our message to reach out across the globe:  tigers are worth much more alive than dead.

    Actor Harrison Ford


  3. Verges are vital in linking isolated patches of habitat and helping with dispersal and colonisation.

    Not only that, the pleasure many of us have as we look at the beautiful flowers colouring our verges is enormous. 

    Wildflowers on verges don’t have it easy, of course, thanks to output from vehicle exhausts.

    The wildflower charity Plantlife has a petition to rationalise the management of our verges.  It has a Road Verge Campaign.

    45% of flora growing along our verges includes about 100 of our most vulnerable and rarest plants.  

    And Plantlife thinks local councils could benefit from verges with wildflowers.

    So it’s produced a Good Verge Guide.  It says that early cutting and frequent cutting reduces plant diversity.  It encourages coarse grasses and plants such as cow parsley which require more cutting. 

    Plantlife says the best time to cut is between mid-July and late September, and to do it once. Cuttings could be used as hay, biomass or wildflower seed.

    The county council in Dorset has saved over £100,000 since 2014 by using cost-cutting practices which are wildflower friendly.  It expects to save £50,000 during the 2017-2018 year.

    Burnley Borough Council is saying no to mowing and reckons it will save a lot of money by doing so.

    Plantlife say that a YouGov Poll for Friends of the Earth and Buglife show that 81% of the public back the move for councils to help wild flowers.  Bees depend on them.  We need bees for our own wellbeing. 


    So if you want to save our beautiful verges and wildflowers, which are vital for wildlife, please fly or crawl away to Plantlife and sign their petition. 



  4. The Supreme Court has ordered the TN (State of Tamil Nadu’s) government to track  down on elephant corridor encroachment.

    There are 400 resorts that are violating the corridor territory and elephant deaths in the state have gone up.  One report in The Times of India says elephant deaths in the state doubled from 61 in 2015-2016 to 125 over the past year.

    There’s been a long battle between conservationists and resrots owners in Tamil Nadu at the confluence of the Western and Eastern Ghats.

    Back in 2011, the Madras High Court ordered the creation of an elephant corridor.  Resort owners were to hand over or leave their lands falling within the corridor area.

    It also mandated that no new development activity was to occur in the area.  Private landowners quickly applied for and got a stay on the order a few months later.

    During the north east monsoons, the elephants move from Bandipur in Karnataka to Kerala and Tamil Nadu.  In the south west monsoons, they do the opposite journey.

    Lawyer and conservationist Elephant G Rajendran, said that the elephants’ abode is the forest where it has the food it needs.  They move along their traditional path.  This used to be rich forestry cover but private resorts have chosen to operate there, so the elephants are losing their path

    Wildlife corridors are vital to wildlife because they enable the animals to get from one essential piece of habitat to another so it is really important they are connected. 

    Source:  The News Minute 



  5. In the south west China’s Yunnan Province, environmental workers have opened some canteens for wild Asian elephants.

    The aim is to reduce conflicts between the elephants and people.

    Staff from the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve have created about 100 hectares of the elephant’s favourite food in three different sites.  Bamboo and paper mulberry are on the menu.

    On 5 July, a canteen had 20 Asian elephants who enjoyed their meal over two hours.

    In Pu'er City, over 253 hectares of sugarcane, bananas and maize have been planted for the elephants.

    The idea is that open-air canteens will help entice the elephants away from human settlements to prevent conflicts between the animals and people.  The elephants can munch on food plants far away from the villages so they are less likely to come in to conflict with them.  Fewer elephants are looking for food in the villages now.

    The wild Asian elephants are endangered animals.   In China their population has grown from over 170 in the 1990s to about 300 today.  They live mainly in Yunnan.

    Source:  Xinhuanet.com