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Conservation Projects (presentation and disclosure)

Brazil Matias Offline
( This post was last modified: 11-26-2018, 02:50 AM by Matias )

The purpose of this topic is to present projects so that they become known and appreciated.

Far from what we are lead to believe, the Sahara is not just miles and miles of endless sand but a complex mosaic of landscapes, including some of the biggest grasslands and highest mountain ranges in Africa. Like elsewhere on earth, the sustainable use and conservation of landscapes and critical wildlife habitats calls for a mix of tools and, above all, dialog and partnership with the people that use the land and its resources.

Barren wasteland? Or home to some of the most resourceful people on earth? In spite of tremendous environmental challenges, the peoples of the Sahara are not only diverse but maintain vibrant cultures, in many places based on the natural resources the Sahara has to offer. It is inconceivable for conservation to succeed without the support of those people living closest to and in many cases dependent on the natural resources we all hope to see saved and managed sustainably.

The desert is not only beautiful but also home to thousands of plants and animals uniquely adapted to life in a very, very special part of our planet. 

Protected Areas in Northern & Western Africa
The Sahara desert and its Sahelian fringes cover over 10 million km² (ca. 4 million sq ml), about the same size as the USA or roughly a third of the land mass of Africa. This vast region is shared by at least 14 countries and is home to many millions of people.

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Some news:


Fri, 07/27/2018 - 19:29 / 0 Comments
A giraffe monitoring mission was carried out by the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF) and the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) from 6 to 17 April, in Niger, to survey the wild population of West African Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta), subspecies of the newly classified northern giraffe species, currently listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red list. The aim was to monitor giraffes during the dry season and to obtain information in addition to the data collected in the rainy season - and especially to go to areas which were usually not explored (giraffes being more dispersed at this time of the year). Each giraffe observed had to be identified.
So that all the areas where the giraffes were supposed to be found would be covered, the mission lasted 11 days. The first week was spent in the south east of Niamey, especially in the region of Kouré and Falmey- an area where the giraffes were for sure known to stay. During the second part of the mission, the team went to explore the north of Niamey, around Simiri, Dingazi and Fandou.

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Every member of the team had a different role; taking pictures, identifying giraffes, taking notes, recording data in the smartphone via a specific giraffe tracking application, guidance, etc.

 This field mission consisted in counting the giraffes and go to any other area where they were expected to be present, using a vehicle to drive across the Dallol valley. 
This mission also had the following objectives: 
- Determine the distribution pattern of the giraffes during the dry season. 
- Count, photograph and identify the giraffes with a focus on newborns.  
- Raise awareness among local communities about giraffe conservation as well as its habitats.

The mission itinerary and the entire journey were coordinated in regard with the information we could obtain concerning the giraffe occurrence; this kind of information could be provided by official sources such as the staff of the "Direction des Eaux et Forêts", by the guide, or by locals.

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Giraffes can usually be found very close to villages. The cohabitation with people is generally possible since it is not an aggressive species, but there can be issues with crops getting eaten by giraffes. In this season, they eat mangoes. Some people have protected their fields or gardens by enclosing them, or by digging holes around their lands, which giraffes cannot cross.

For every giraffe encountered, pictures of both sides were needed to identify it and complete the database as well.

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With a large group, the difficulty is to identify each individual, and when the giraffes begin to move, not to confuse them.

*This image is copyright of its original author
  It can be a bit tricky sometimes to take a good photo of both profiles, especially with the calves, because they get more easily scared and prefer to remain in the far distance as much as possible. 
While taking the photos of the giraffe, the following information (age, sex, coat characteristics, etc.) would be written down on a paper as well as digitally. 

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  During this monitoring mission, SCF-GCF team saw a dozen giraffe calves born in 2018 (a very encouraging number!). They are most of the time isolated from the rest of the group with their mother, since they usually move away to give birth.
The identification is made possible by the analysis and comparison of the giraffe pelage (or any other kind of distinctive sign) with photos taken in the previous years.

*This image is copyright of its original author
 In this photo, showing the left-side of an adult female, all of the spots can be clearly distinguished, which allows the identification of the giraffe. 

*This image is copyright of its original author
 Giraffes allowed the team to get relatively close, making it easier to take photos for the identification, like with this portrait of two males. We can notice the third ossicone on the front of the two giraffes, which helps confirm their gender, since females do not have it. 

Two questionnaires were prepared for the local communities so that we could have a better idea of their perceptions and interactions with giraffes. It was the first time they were circulated in the field, so they were conceived as experiments. The first questionnaire focused on the conflicts between locals and wildlife, while the second one was more specifically about the perception and interaction of people with giraffes. 
All the data collected were sent to the persons in charge of their processing. Also, the feedback on the questionnaires gave a good idea of how to improve them and adapt them better to the real conditions on the ground.
This mission has allowed us to highly improve our knowledge of the giraffe population in this area. Indeed, new born giraffes were observed but we also noticed the presence of some individuals that had remained unseen for many years. It also enabled us to have a better understanding of their distribution; going to new sites greatly helped realize that some of the giraffes had also settled down in a number
 remote places. 


Mon, 04/02/2018 - 00:53 / 0 Comments

Many thanks to Marie Petretto, Tania Gilbert, and Philip Riordan for this article giving a useful overview on the experience of Marwell Wildlife, SCF long-time partner, with antelope conservation in Tunisia and in the Sahara.

 Once abundant and widespread Saharan antelopes, such as scimitar-horned oryx (Oryx dammah) and addax (Addax nasomaculatus) have dwindled towards extinction during the twentieth century. Tunisia recognised the dramatic loss of its natural heritage early, and was amongst the first range countries to implement a national strategy to return these emblematic ungulates to their natural habitats.

 More recently, a joint project between the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Chad government, with the Sahara Conservation Fund as the implementing agency, led to the release of captive-bred scimitar-horned oryx (SH oryx) from Abu-Dhabi, into the extensive unfenced Ouadi Rimé-Ouadi Achim (OROA) Reserve in Chad, several decades after they were extirpated by over-hunting and habitat degradation.

Since the first release of SH oryx in Tunisia’s Bou Hedma National Park in 1985, and the subsequent Djerba Declaration in 1998, Marwell Wildlife has collaborated in a long-term partnership with the Tunisian Direction Générale des Forêts (DGF) to restore antelopes and their arid ecosystems in Tunisia. Our work has focused on monitoring these animals and their role in the aridland ecosystems. Our surveys address key questions on population viability, habitat use and animal health using a range of techniques including population genetics, biodiversity assessments, and population modelling.

*This image is copyright of its original author

*This image is copyright of its original author

 In 2012, the EAD convened a team including the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, RZSS and Marwell, to model scenarios of reintroduction success. The baseline model was adapted from one that Marwell developed for the reintroduction of SH oryx to Tunisia’s Dghoumes National Park in 2007.
Genetic evaluation by EAD and RZSS of the captive population for reintroduction to Chad indicated they would benefit from additional lineages, and in 2015 Marwell transferred 14 SH oryx donated by several European zoos (EAZA) to Abu-Dhabi. Together with SH oryx transferred from North America, they increased the population’s genetic diversity at the EAD. A similar approach to creating genetically diverse founders for reintroduction was employed in Tunisia in 2007, when animals from EAZA and North American zoos (AZA) were released into Dghoumes National Park.

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There are substantial differences between the reintroduction of SH oryx to the large unfenced OROA Reserve in Chad and the smaller fenced protected areas in Tunisia. Unlike the OROA population, those in Tunisia require ongoing management to ensure long-term sustainability. Marwell works closely with the DGF and reserve managers to implement strategies that address issues of limited carrying capacity and small population size. These management strategies are informed by modelling, logistics, and genetics, thanks to generous support from SCF, RZSS, Le Cornelle (Italy), Monde Sauvage (Belgium), and Dublin Zoo (Ireland). 

 Our team’s success with SH oryx has stimulated similar Marwell & DGF projects for reintroduced addax (in partnership with RZSS, Al Ain Zoo-UAE and San Diego Zoo Global-USA), and the North African ostrich in Tunisia (for more details visit ).

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Sadly, many countries do not have protected areas of sufficient size and with enough suitable habitat to support self-sustainable populations of large-bodied animals. Our fragmented population model may be the only pragmatic option that many countries can adopt if they want to see the return of these species. Marwell and the DGF are working to recreate natural species assemblages through management interventions across the network of protected areas in Tunisia, and the results will inform similar projects in other areas. An already tangible output is the Tunisian strategy for “re-wilding” areas that have been intensively overgrazed by domestic livestock.
Tunisia has demonstrated a strong commitment to the conservation and restoration of Sahelo-Saharan wildlife, and Marwell is honoured to partner with the DGF and will continue to collaborate on Tunisian conservation initiatives for the foreseeable future. 
M. Petretto, T. Gilbert, P. Riordan - Marwell Wildlife

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 14:40 / 0 Comments

The conservation community is facing a paradox related to the difficulties of reintroducing and/or reinforcing some species which are declining and disappearing in the wild while the number of individuals keeps increasing in captivity and overpopulation is becoming an issue, e.g.: Scimitar-horned Oryx and addax in zoos and private collections.

Based on the IUCN guidelines for reintroduction of antelope species, it is recommended to build up the most viable world herd by selecting individuals from captivity according to the studbooks and avoid genetic bottle neck. However, many challenges will come out while creating a world herd. Indeed, the lack of collaborative platform amongst zoos over the world is one big challenge and between zoos and private owners is another one.

The C2S2 (Conservation Centers for Species Survival ) initiative in United States appears to be an effective solution but it could be even more effective if it was extended to the rest of the world. The increasing restrictions about wildlife transportation from a continent to another one is also a major impediment to create suitable world herd. At last, the difference of objectives between zoos and conservation organizations is another constraint. Everybody agrees on the fact that species are declining in the wild and conservation in situ and ex-situ are both necessary. Nevertheless, the devil is in the details and while the zoo community will favor subspecies conservation for exhibition purpose, conservation organizations will favor genetic diversity to maximize resilience in a reintroduction context.

We hope the upcoming workshop dealing with Dama gazelle conservation which will take place in Al Ain Zoo by the end of this year, will bring solutions and will enable immediate actions to save this species in the wild. While experts keep arguing about the right thing to do, species are going extinct. Unfortunately, time is not on the side of conservation and swift action is needed to save what remains from extinction.

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 Thomas Rabeil, SCF Regional Program Officer
Fri, 11/23/2018 - 15:29 / 0 Comments

The Egyptian Vulture is facing an important decline worldwide, and the Balkans have not been spared: from the hundreds of pairs historically present in the peninsula, about 70 pairs only are remaining, the population being victim of a 7% decline yearly for the past 30 years.

This rapid decline is hard to prevent as it is due to a complex combination of factors. Threats are multiple and differ from one region to another, putting pressure on the vultures on their breeding ground as well as along their migration routes. 
Within the framework of the Egyptian Vulture NEW LIFE project, SCF is investigating the main threats vultures are facing on their wintering grounds, mainly in Niger, and particularly mortality from electrocution, accidental poisoning through the use of veterinary medicine for cattle or agricultural products (mainly Diclofenac)  known to be fatal for vultures when feeding on contaminated carcasses, the  or along the same line, the use of poisons, mainly strychnine, known for its high toxicity and used to control wild carnivores,  or direct killing by poachers aiming at selling vulture parts for magical (or belief based) uses. 

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*This image is copyright of its original author

For all these issues the team is investigating in the field as well as among administrations so that information can be gathered that should enable identification of the priority level of  each threat   and so prioritize our actions. 
As first results, even though the severity degree for every threat cannot be estimated with exactitude, poaching was found to be  acute in the region, possibly the most important threat. Indeed, cases had already been registered (cf. Paschalis case ) and the practice of this illegal activity has been confirmed by locals during interviews. 

As for the other threats listed above, they seem unlikely to be responsible for decimating large numbers of birds. Indeed, the country has only few electric infrastructures, mainly concentrated around cities, minimizing, or even excluding EV electrocution possibilities. As for poisoning, more investigation is still needed but as far as we know no EV cadavers, evidence of an accidental death, have been found, relegating such threats to a second level. 
Also, based on the previous results and simultaneously with  further investigation and follow-up activities,  preventive work will  be conducted with the view to raise awareness among local communities. Their understanding and support is crucial to the long-term success of such conservation endeavour. 
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Brazil Matias Offline
( This post was last modified: 12-05-2018, 11:32 PM by Matias Edit Reason: Formatting )

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The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only NGO in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffe in the wild throughout Africa.

Some news from the site


West African giraffe return to Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve after 50 years of absence
Eight West African giraffe travelled over 800 kilometres in 48 hours to be safely re-introduced to the Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve in Niger, after an absence of almost 50 years.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation and Sahara Conservation Fund announce the safe re-introduction of eight highly threatened West African giraffe into Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve (recently listed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO). In two trips of 48 hours each, two groups of four giraffe were translocated over 800 kilometres by truck to their new home. This is the first conservation effort of its kind in Niger, and for West African giraffe.

The world’s last remaining population of West African giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis peralta), a subspecies of the Northern giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis), is restricted to the ‘Giraffe Zone’ in the Republic of Niger, an area approximately 60 kilometres south-east of the capital Niamey. Even though the ‘Giraffe Zone’ is not formally protected, it forms part of the W Transboundary Biosphere Reserve, covering more than 1,700 sqkm. These West African giraffe are an isolated population, with the closest population of giraffe being Kordofan giraffe (G. c. antiquorum) that live more than 2,000 kilometres away in northern Cameroon and southern Chad – also a subspecies of the Northern giraffe.

Operation Sahel Giraffe commenced in early November 2018, after a year of meticulous preparation. Eight giraffe were individually captured in the ‘Giraffe Zone’ and transferred to a holding pen (boma), where they were kept for more than three weeks to prepare them for the long journey. The eight giraffe were then transported in two groups of four, an arduous journey for both the giraffe and the team, before their successful release in Gadabedji Biosphere Reserve recently.

Almost 50 years ago, giraffe became locally extinct in the Gadabedji area because of drought and illegal hunting. Since 2013 Niger’s Wildlife Authority, with support from the Niger Fauna Corridor Project/UNDP, has worked diligently towards restoring the region’s wildlife and their habitat. The re-introduction of giraffe will further enrich the reserve’s biodiversity and contribute to increasing community development and support in the region.

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For full reading access the link:


Malawi Gains New Giraffe Population in Majete Wildlife Reserve

Last month, 13 giraffe have been safely released into Majete Wildlife Reserve in southern Malawi after a 2,500 km road-journey from South Africa.  The translocation was one of the farthest of its kind to establish a new giraffe population in Malawi after an absence of more than 100 year. In an collaborative effort, GCF partnered with African Parks (AP) and Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW) to bring giraffe back.

For full reading access the link:


Even though conservation efforts benefit some giraffe, others are in serious trouble…

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species is once again drawing attention to the plight of giraffe. The IUCN Red List reveals that they are in serious trouble, with some now being considered as ‘Critically Endangered’. Many people first became aware of the declining numbers of the iconic giraffe when they were uplisted to ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List in 2016. The IUCN Red List 2018-2 update comes as a further reminder that some of the currently IUCN-recognised giraffe subspecies are in real trouble.

The conservation status of seven of the currently IUCN-recognised nine giraffe subspecies has been assessed –five of these subspecies for the first time ever. For many, it comes as a shock that three of the giraffe subspecies are now listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ (Kordofan and Nubian giraffe) and ‘Endangered’ (Reticulated giraffe), while others range from ‘Vulnerable’ (Thornicroft’s and West African giraffe) to ‘Near Threatened’ (Rothschild’s giraffe). Only Angolan giraffe – with their stronghold in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe – seem to be out of trouble and are listed as ‘Least Concern’. Only the South African and Masai giraffe are yet to be assessed. While South African giraffe appear to be doing well, Masai giraffe have plummeted and will most likely be placed within one of the threatened categories of the IUCN Red List.

The updated assessments of these giraffe subspecies were undertaken by the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Giraffe & Okapi Specialist Group (GOSG), which is hosted by the Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) – who already, two years ago, sounded the alarm for the ‘silent extinction’ of giraffe.

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