And Then There Were Three
Welcome to this introduction to the third issue of &FFI, Fauna & Flora International’s annual magazine. Below are short summaries of some of the features in our 2021-2022 issue, complete with links to the relevant FFI projects where you can find details of the donors whose generous support enables us to carry out this vital work.
Nocturnal, elusive and mainly solitary, the pygmy hippo is a very different proposition to its larger, more familiar cousin. We profile this endangered denizen of the deep, dark forests of West Africa, where FFI is working to safeguard several of its remaining strongholds, notably in Sapo National Park, Liberia and Guinea’s Ziama Massif.
FFI is joining forces with Re:wild to raise the profile of the Caribbean islands as one of the world’s most biologically rich and threatened regions. We will be embarking on joint projects as well as building on our existing success in safeguarding species such as the Antiguan racer, Saint Lucia racer and the Union Island gecko and restoring islands such as Redonda to their former glory.
Spotlight on sturgeons
All but four of the world’s 27 sturgeon species are perilously close to extinction. Georgia’s Rioni River is the last known refuge of the Colchic sturgeon and supports five other critically endangered species including the ship sturgeon, which FFI recently rediscovered. We are working to safeguard these extraordinary fish from a variety of threats including poaching, habitat destruction and the construction of hydropower dams.
Global, regional and national action to tackle the scourge of bottom trawling is urgently needed. Following a worrying spike in sea turtle mortality, FFI is working with local partners to secure better management of Kenya’s shrimp-trawl fishery, while in Southeast Asia we are beginning to help address the issue of massive fleets of so-called baby trawlers that are threatening to devastate marine biodiversity in Myanmar and Cambodia.
Sea turtles are among the most threatened marine species. FFI’s activities are contributing directly and indirectly to the recovery of five of the world’s seven sea turtle species at various project sites worldwide including hawksbills and leatherbacks in Nicaragua and Antigua, loggerheads in Cape Verde, green turtles in Kenya and olive ridleys in West Papua.
The forest, grassland, wetland and coastal and marine ecosystems whose biodiversity FFI is helping to protect are also crucial natural allies in the fight against climate change. We showcase some of the landscapes in which we are working, shining a spotlight on the carbon storage capacity of sites including two key protected areas in southern Tajikistan, coastal mangroves in Honduras, Liberia’s vast Sapo National Park, Turkey’s dwindling seagrass meadows and the peat swamps of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
As part of our holistic approach to addressing illegal wildlife trade, FFI is deploying a situational crime prevention toolkit at various project sites worldwide to combat a range of illegal activities including the shooting of critically endangered northern white-cheeked gibbons, the capture of yellow-naped parrots in Nicaragua and the collection of steppe tortoises in Central Asia.
In conservation terms, Kyrgyzstan is the geographical equivalent of a neglected species, but FFI has bucked the trend by working there for nearly a quarter of a century and was instrumental in developing the country’s national conservation strategy. Currently, we’re working to protect the country’s ancient and globally important fruit-and-nut forests, as well as safeguarding the high-altitude pastures that harbour Menzbier’s marmot, myriad wild tulip species and other threatened flora.
The year in pictures
Our gallery includes snapshots of species and stories that made the headlines: we helped secure a new protected area for South Sudan, while our in-country partners were instrumental in the expansion of Turkey’s marine protected area network and the designation of the island of Maio in Cape Verde as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve; we rediscovered the critically endangered ship sturgeon in Georgia’s Rioni River, witnessed leatherback turtles returning to nest in Nicaragua, reached the notable landmark of 100 new species discovered in Myanmar by FFI and partners, and alerted the authorities in Kerinci Seblat National Park that the world’s rarest rabbit was for sale on Facebook in Sumatra.