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As the year draws to a close, we reflect on the best of 2013 in conservation
As Fauna & Flora International (FFI) celebrates its 110th anniversary, we reflect on what we’ve accomplished in conservation this past year alone: from the seven wonders of endangered species, to the discovery of a new genus of bat, to a rare sighting of the Iberian lynx in Portugal. Here are some of the highlights.
In January 2013, a research team led by scientists from Fauna & Flora International (FFI), in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA), captured the first records of the Liberian mongoose in Sapo National Park in south-east Liberia.
These animals are thought to be important ‘ecosystem engineers’, because their foraging behaviour, which turns over large areas of forest, helps to create a more varied and diverse landscape that can benefit other species.
Also in January 2013, the Government of Belize burnt a stockpile of illegally-harvested rosewood timber, sending a message to all of Belize – as well as the international community – about the importance of forest sustainability and the need to put an end to illegal logging.
In February 2013, a poll conducted by the Alliance for Zero Extinction (a network of 88 conservation groups including FFI) revealed ‘seven wonders of endangered species,’ as voted for by the global community, ranging from the unusually-named snake-necked turtle from Roti Island in Indonesia, to the handsome long-whiskered owlet from Peru.
In the same month we also learned of two new salamander species, discovered by a team of young researchers from Colombia during a project supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme and Save Our Species.
Two new salamander species discovered by Colombian researchers 08.02.13
In March, a female black rhinoceros was slaughtered by poachers for her horns in Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, leaving behind a 3-week-old calf. Thanks to the help of staff at Ol Pejeta and neighbouring Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, as well as the generosity of one donor, the calf, named Hope, received excellent care and a new chance at survival.
In the April 2013 issue of the journal ZooKeys, scientists described an entirely new genus of bat. The genus was identified after researchers from Bucknell University and FFI discovered a rare specimen while conducting field research with wildlife authorities in South Sudan.
While the species they found had been first documented in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1939, this year’s find prompted researchers to assign it to a genus all its own: Niumbaha, meaning “rare” or “unusual.”
April saw FFI’s Flagship Species Fund announce eight grants to be given to species conservation projects in 2013. The Fund, a partnership between FFI and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is supporting a range of species – from the pygmy three-toed sloth, to the Magnolia tree, to the orang-utan and the land crab – through this year’s grants.
Zafer Kizilkaya, President of the Mediterranean Conservation Society, FFI’s partner in Turkey, was announced winner of the prestigious Whitley Awards in May 2013. The £35,000 (approx. US$ 57,000) award will support work to create Turkey’s first community-managed marine protected area in Gökova Bay.
June marked a rare sighting of an Iberian lynx in Portugal, in an area where the Critically Endangered cat had not been seen for decades. Photos of the two-year-old male, which had journeyed 250 kilometres from Spain, bring good news for FFI’s work in securing a landscape corridor for the world’s rarest cat species.
In the same month, we were thrilled to have renowned actress, author and comedy legend Betty White join FFI as Honorary Director. As an animal lover and passionate conservationist, Betty plans to engage more people in understanding and conserving wildlife and natural habitats through her new role.
The 2013 Great Kerinci Snare Sweep, an annual competition to protect Sumatran tigers by removing active snares from Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia, yielded a record 40 active tiger snares. Despite an enormously successful five week sweep by Tiger Protection and Conservation Unit rangers, the effort uncovered a huge rise in threat to Sumatran tigers from the previous two years.
In September 2013, FFI launched the Good Scrub Guide, an easy reference tool to help UK consumers find plastic-free exfoliating scrubs, to help tackle the growing problem of marine microplastic pollution. The guide features the most common facial exfoliators on the UK market and will specify which brands are taking positive steps toward removing plastic microbeads from their products.
On 12 September 2013, an unprecedented, 10 year alliance was formed between seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations to combat global conservation crises: United for Wildlife. Led by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Price Harry, the collaboration aims to unite the best minds in conservation, together with the skills and expertise of global leaders in business, communications, technology and the creative industries, to better respond to major conservation challenges.
On 15 October 2013, guests gathered at the Royal Geographical Society in London to celebrate Fauna & Flora International’s 110th anniversary with a very special event.
Before a 700-strong audience, FFI vice-president Sir David Attenborough and BBC compatriot Libby Purves discussed the wonders of nature and Sir David’s incredible career in wildlife broadcasting.
Talk also turned to the threats facing our natural world today, and the reasons for conserving biodiversity.
FFI and local organisation Madagasikara Voakajy hit a conservation milestone for Madagascar’s iconic Grandidier’s baobab in October 2013, when a local community was granted management rights for 6,453 hectares of forest hosting 400 adult trees. With support from FFI’s Global Trees Campaign, Madagasikara Voakajy has worked with the community to set up a village forest management organisation, define zones within the forest and develop rules for the use of forest resources within each zone.
The birth of Ol Pejeta Conservancy’s 100th black rhino in October made the Kenyan sanctuary the most important in East Africa for conservation of this Critically Endangered species. Although the threat of poaching remains high, as evidenced by a tragic loss earlier this year, the new birth has brought renewed hope for black rhinos.
In 2013, a joint team from the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) and FFI discovered three previously unknown populations of the Endangered hog deer in Cambodia. The discovery is significant as Cambodia is home to the only known wild populations of one subspecies of the deer and because the new populations were found outside Cambodia’s protected area network.
FFI marked its 110th anniversary on 11 December 2013 and took the chance to look back at some of our remarkable achievements since our beginnings – captured in an interactive timeline. Today, our work spans over 40 countries, contributes to the conservation of more than 43.8 million hectares of important habitat and supports the management of over 204 sites. As 2013 draws to a close, we look forward to a new year of challenges and milestones!
❝As Fauna & Flora International (FFI) celebrates its 110th anniversary, we reflect on what we’ve accomplished in conservation this past year alone❞