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WWF - Conservation news & stories

News, publications and job feeds from WWF - the global conservation organization


Hope for critically endangered Mekong river dolphins as population increases for first time

2018-04-23Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0000

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 23, 2018 – After decades of seemingly irreversible decline, results from a WWF and Government of Cambodia census released today show that the population of critically endangered river dolphins in the Mekong has risen from 80 to 92 in the past two years – the first increase since records began more than twenty years ago. Effective river patrolling by teams of river guards and the strict confiscation of illegal gillnets, which accidentally trap and drown dolphins, are the main reasons for this historic increase. Over the past two years 358 km of illegal gillnets – almost double the length of the dolphins' remaining home range – have been confiscated from core dolphin habitat. "After years of hard work, we finally have reason to believe that these iconic dolphins can be protected against extinction – thanks to the combined efforts of the government, WWF, the tourism industry and local communities," said Seng Teak, Country Director, WWF Cambodia. "The tour boat operators are the secret ingredient in this success story as they work closely with law enforcement to report poaching and help confiscate illegal gillnets." The first official census in 1997 estimated that there were 200 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong, a figure that fell steadily due to bycatch and habitat loss until there were only 80 left in 2015. But now the decline appears to be on the mend. Along with the 10 per cent increase in dolphins, the surveys also point toward encouraging signs for the long-term health of the population, with an improvement in the survival rate of dolphins into adulthood, an increase in the number of calves and a drop in overall deaths. Two dolphins died in 2017 compared with nine in 2015, while nine new calves brought the number of dolphins born in the past three years to 32. "River dolphins are indicators of the health of the Mekong River and their recovery is a hopeful sign for the river and the millions of people who depend on it," said Teak. "We celebrate this good news, but now is not the time for complacency. As threats to their survival persist, we need to re-double our efforts to protect the dolphins both for their future and that of the river and communities that live alongside it." "The Mekong dolphin is considered our country's living national treasure and the results of this census reflect our many years of continuous efforts to protect this species," said His Excellency Eng Cheasan, Director General of Fisheries Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. "We will continue our conservation efforts to rebuild its population by eliminating all threats to the survival of this species." The surveys covered 190 km of the main channel of the Mekong River from Kratie in Cambodia to the Khone Falls complex in Laos. Surveys were done in both directions with teams photographing dolphins and comparing the distinctive marks on their backs and dorsal fins against a database of known dolphins. ###Notes to Editors:Photos available here: For more information, please contact:Un Chakrey, Communications and Marketing Manager, WWF-Cambodia; +855 17 234 555; un.chakrey@wwfgreatermekong.orgLee Poston, Communications Advisor, WWF-Greater Mekong; +66 9188 32290; About WWF-CambodiaWWF was established in Cambodia in 1995 as a part of the WWF Greater Mekong Programme. WWF's mission in Cambodia is to ensure that there will be strong participation and support from all people to conserve the country's rich biological diversity. Through the encouragement of sustainable use of natural resources, WWF-Cambodia promotes new opportunities for the benefit of all people, enhancing local livelihoods and contributing to poverty reduction in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Go to for more information.[...]

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Global Shipping Sector Steps Up, Sets Climate Targets And Bans Use Of Heavy Fuel Oil In Arctic

2018-04-13Fri, 13 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0000

LONDON, UK (13 April 2018) - In a landmark step forward for the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) today agreed to climate targets for the sector, as part of its first comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction strategy. The global maritime regulator also agreed to ban heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, a region on the frontline of the impacts of climate change, and to tackle the growing problem of ocean plastics. Climate TargetsThe agreement on climate targets comes after years of negotiations in the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee, and two years after the world lauded the approval of the Paris Agreement, which did not regulate shipping emissions. The IMO agreement calls for a strategy for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from the global shipping sector, with a target of 50 per cent emissions reductions by 2050 from 2008, and efforts to achieve complete decarbonization of the sector. While it is short of the 70-100 per cent emission reductions that the Pacific islands and many other countries called for, the goal marks a promising step forward by the shipping sector to play its part in limiting warming to 1.5°C. Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global climate and energy programme, said: "This is very welcome news, a good first step and an important policy signal. Shipping is responsible for more than 2 per cent of global emissions, and this is growing. The agreement today is an opportunity to bend this curve to align with the Paris Agreement, but it needs to translate into urgent action - now." Mark Lutes, WWF senior global climate policy advisor, said the decision sends a strong signal to the shipping industry and fuel suppliers that they need to scale up investments in new technologies and their rapid deployment, including alternative fuels and propulsion systems. "The next five years are crucial, and action must start with bold decisions at the next IMO meeting later this year. They must agree on measures that can be implemented immediately, like upgrading efficiency standards for new ships, sourcing low and zero emission fuels, and stimulating a reduction in ship speeds, which translates directly to greater efficiency and low fuel use." Heavy Fuel OilAnother area of progress was the IMO's move towards a ban of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic. Given the severe risks a heavy fuel oil spill poses to polar environments, the IMO has already banned its use and carriage in the Antarctic. Member states committed to take into account the impacts of a ban on communities in the Arctic. Andrew Dumbrille, WWF-Canada sustainable shipping specialist, said: "It's not a question of 'if' but rather 'when' a ban on HFO should be put in place. With the Arctic facing growing risks from oil spills and black carbon emissions from ships, the marine sector needs to quickly transition away from polluting fuels like HFO. WWF calls on member states to make every effort to adopt and rapidly implement a ban by 2021, without burdening communities with the costs."          Ocean PlasticThe IMO also agreed to take action on shipping's contribution to the increasingly severe issue of global plastic and microplastic pollution.Dr. Simon Walmsley, WWF's Senior Advisor, Arctic Sustainable Development, said: "Although this is a global issue, significant amounts of plastic end up in the Arctic due to the Northerly converging currents. We are pleased that fishing vessels are included to address things like abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear. It is critical that the IMO is successful in ending shipping's contribution to this significant pollution source. Through this action plan on plastics the IMO is acknowledging the important role it plays in helping achieve global sustainable development goals." ---ends--- FOR EDITORSGlobal shipping and aviation emissions are not controlled by the Paris Agreement as they are not included in na[...]

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Unprecedented collaring effort aims to protect Tanzania's threatened elephants

2018-04-04Wed, 04 Apr 2018 00:00:00 +0000

DAR ES SALAAM – In Tanzania, the government, with support from WWF, has launched the country's largest ever elephant collaring effort to protect its dwindling elephant population. With almost 90 per cent of the elephants lost over the last 40 years in the Selous Game Reserve, a World Heritage site, enhancing rangers' ability to guard the remaining ones from poaching is essential to rebuilding the population.In a project spanning 12 months, 60 elephants are expected to be collared in and surrounding the Selous. This will enable reserve management and government rangers to track elephant movements, identify and act against threats in real-time. The use of satellite collars is a proven effective measure to monitor wildlife movements and provide enhanced security.The data collected through the collars will help teams predict where the elephants and their herds are moving to anticipate the dangers they may face, such as the risk of encountering poachers. It can also alert teams if the herd is heading toward community settlements to help move them away from farmlands and reduce the risk of human-elephant conflict."In a landscape as vast as Selous where poaching continues, better information on the whereabouts of elephants is critical to anticipate the risks they may encounter, including fatal attacks by poachers," said Asukile Kajuni, Deputy Programmes Coordinator for the Elephant and Ruvuma landscape programmes, WWF-Tanzania. "The collars mark an important first step in the zero poaching approach we are taking by enabling wildlife protection teams to be on the front foot against poaching attacks." "The key to the success of elephant collars is ensuring all relevant teams have access to the data to help inform decision making. The project will provide secured elephant movement data on a mobile phone to enable key security and research personnel to access the data. "WWF is also working with local communities, training village game scouts, and with wildlife crime investigators and prosecutors to ensure they are appraised of the severity of crimes and perpetrators are handed appropriate sentences."In the past 40 years, rampant poaching of elephants for ivory has seen the population in Selous decimated, with numbers plunging to around 15,200 from 110,000. In 2014, UNESCO placed Selous on its List of World Heritage in Danger due to the severity of elephant poaching.WWF is working with the government to adopt a zero poaching approach using a tool kit to protect the country's elephants and ecosystems in one of Africa's last wilderness areas. Zero poaching involves not just tackling poaching incidents but identifying the signs of poaching activities like snares and poachers' camps. On the ground, it involves action on several key areas; from ensuring there are enough properly equipped rangers to working closely with the local communities surrounding the protected area. It also includes working with prosecutors and judges to ensure that when poachers are brought to trial they face penalties that can act as a deterrent."Achieving a world free of poaching is an ambitious goal but just the kind of commitment we must deliver if we want to tackle the world's biodiversity crisis and ensure our future generations know and admire elephants and other species in the wild," said Margaret Kinnaird, WWF Wildlife Practice Leader. "Every year, on average, 20,000 elephants are killed for their tusks in Africa – this is unacceptable and must stop now."Last week, two elephants from the Selous Game Reserve population were collared in the adjoining Mikumi National Park. To collar an elephant, the animal is first sedated by an immobilisation dart. When the elephant is sedated, the team moves in to attach the collar while gathering health data about the elephant. This takes a total of up to 30 minutes, following which the elephant is given an antidote to revive and join its herd. Ongoing since 20 March, the elephant collaring activity will continue until November 2018. ---ends---Notes to edi[...]

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Earth Hour 2018: Globe unites to celebrate people's connection to our planet

2018-03-25Sun, 25 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0000

SINGAPORE, 25 March 2018 – Individuals, businesses and organizations in a record 188 countries and territories worldwide joined WWF's Earth Hour to spark unprecedented conversation and action on stopping the loss of nature, a day after 550 scientists warned of a 'dangerous decline' in global biodiversity.Close to 18,000 landmarks switched off their lights in solidarity as people across the globe generated over 3.5 billion impressions of #EarthHour, #connect2earth and related hashtags to show their concern for the planet. The hashtags trended in 33 countries. "Once again, the people have spoken through Earth Hour," said Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International. "The record participation in this year's Earth Hour, from skylines to timelines, is a powerful reminder that people want to connect to Earth. People are demanding commitment now on halting climate change and the loss of nature. The stakes are high and we need urgent action to protect the health of the planet for a safe future for us and all life on Earth."From Colombia to Indonesia to Fiji, Earth Hour 2018 mobilized people to join efforts to protect forests and mangroves. In Romania, hundreds of people showed their commitment to safeguarding nature by writing symbolic letters to rivers, forests and wildlife. In Africa, 24 countries celebrated Earth Hour to highlight the most pressing conservation challenges they face such as access to renewable energy, freshwater resources and habitat degradation. This Earth Hour, for the first time, people across the globe also joined the conversation on connect2earth to share what nature means to them, in the places they live in and care about. The platform, created in partnership with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity and supported by Germany's Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety with funding from the International Climate Initiative, aims to build mass awareness on the values of biodiversity and nature to our lives, health and well-being."The science is clear: the loss of nature is a global crisis. Wildlife has declined by close to 60 per cent in just over 40 years. Our planet is at a crossroads and we cannot have a prosperous future on a depleted, degraded planet. Together as a global community we can turn things around. People must mobilize and join governments and companies toward stronger action on biodiversity and nature - the time to act is now," added Lambertini.The impacts of accelerating biodiversity loss and climate change on the planet are profound, as are the consequences for humanity. As President of France Emmanuel Macron stated in a special message for Earth Hour, 'the time for denial is long past, we are losing our battle against climate change and the collapse of biodiversity'. If this trend continues, our planet's ecosystems will collapse, along with the clean air, water, food and stable climate that they provide.To drive further global awareness and action on nature and the environment, WWF has also joined forces with the World Organization of the Scout Movement this Earth Hour. The energy and voices of 50 million Scouts worldwide send a resounding message to decision-makers worldwide that the time to act on nature, for nature is now.As the hour rolls to a close in the Pacific Ocean's Cook Islands, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world will continue to empower individuals, communities, businesses and governments to be a part of environmental action. In his video statement for Earth Hour, UN Secretary-General António Guterres reiterated the need for people to work together to build a sustainable future for all. Strengthened by the support shown this weekend, teams will renew the charge to tackle issues such as sustainable lifestyles, deforestation, plastic pollution and ocean conservation across continents.Earth Hour 2018: Facts and figures (based on initial estimates on 25 March 2018, 7:30 a.m. GMT):188 count[...]

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Half of plant and animal species at risk from climate change in world's most important natural places

2018-03-14Wed, 14 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0000

LONDON - Up to half of plant and animal species in the world's most naturally rich areas, such as the Amazon and the Galapagos, could face local extinction by the turn of the century due to climate change if carbon emissions continue to rise unchecked. Even if the Paris Climate Agreement 2°C target is met, these places could lose 25 per cent of their species according to a landmark new study by the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and WWF.Published today in the journal Climatic Change and just ahead of Earth Hour, the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment, researchers examined the impact of climate change on nearly 80,000 plant and animal species in 35 of the world's most diverse and naturally wildlife-rich areas. It explores a number of different climate change futures – from a no-emissions-cuts case in which global mean temperatures rise by 4.5°C[1], to a  2°C rise, the upper limit for temperature in the Paris Agreement[2]. Each area was chosen for its uniqueness and the variety of plants and animals found there.The report finds that the Miombo Woodlands, home to African wild dogs, south-west Australia and the Amazon-Guianas are projected to be some the most affected areas. If there was a 4.5°C global mean temperature rise, the climates in these areas are projected to become unsuitable for many of the plants and animals that currently live there meaning: Up to 90 per cent of amphibians, 86 per cent of birds and 80 per cent of mammals could potentially become locally extinct in the Miombo Woodlands, Southern AfricaThe Amazon could lose 69 per cent of its plant speciesIn south-west Australia 89 per cent of amphibians could become locally extinct60 per cent of all species are at risk of localized extinction in MadagascarThe Fynbos in the Western Cape Region of South Africa, which is experiencing a drought that has led to water shortages in Cape Town, could face localised extinctions of a third of its species, many of which are unique to that region.As well as this, increased average temperatures and more erratic rainfall could become be the "new normal" according to the report - with significantly less rainfall in the Mediterranean, Madagascar and the Cerrado-Pantanal in Argentina. Potential effects include[3];Pressure on the water supplies of African elephants – who need to drink 150-300 litres of water a day96 per cent of the breeding grounds of Sundarbans tigers could become submerged by sea-level riseComparatively fewer male marine turtles due to temperature-induced sex assignment of eggs.If species can move freely to new locations then the risk of local extinction decreases from around 25 per cent to 20 per cent with a 2°C global mean temperature rise.  If species cannot they may not be able to survive. Most plants, amphibians and reptiles, such as orchids, frogs and lizards cannot move quickly enough keep up with these climatic changes.Lead researcher Prof Rachel Warren from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at UEA said: "Our research quantifies the benefits of limiting global warming to 2°C for species in 35 of the world's most wildlife-rich areas. We studied 80,000 species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and found that 50 per cent of species could be lost from these areas without climate policy. However, if global warming is limited to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, this could be reduced to 25 per cent. Limiting warming to within 1.5°C was not explored, but would be expected to protect even more wildlife."   Overall the research shows that the best way to protect against species loss is to keep global temperature rise as low as possible. The Paris Agreement Pledges, made by coutnries, reduce the expected level of global warming from 4.5°C to around 3°C, which reduces the impacts, but we see even greater improvements at 2°C; and it is likely tha[...]

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Cape Town water crisis: Michael Bloomberg on Ground Zero as Day Zero is pushed back

2018-03-08Thu, 08 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0000

(image) In recent months, all eyes have been on Cape Town as the city copes with a water crisis of unprecedented scale. It has been billed as the first major city in the world to run the risk of its taps running dry and though latest news reports indicate that Day Zero may be pushed back, the city's four million residents have become the face of the 'new normal' the world appears to be heading toward.

Not surprising then that in his first trip as U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg, decided to visit the Theewaterskloof Dam, the largest dam supplying water to the Western Cape of South Africa, on Wednesday.

At the site, the founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City said: "The extreme drought here in Cape Town should be a wake-up call for all who think that climate change is some far off threat. It's already here, it's making droughts and storms more dangerous, and we've got to do more to keep it from getting worse. Cities and businesses are helping to lead the way, but all levels of society in all countries - on all continents - must take bolder actions. We cannot let droughts like this become common around the world."

Christine Colvin from WWF-South Africa accompanied Mr Bloomberg on the visit along with other prominent environmental and water experts to discuss how, given the intensification of extreme weather due to climate change around the globe, cities can accelerate their preparations for an uncertain water future.

Colvin said: "The current Cape water crisis has had a dramatic impact not just on water availability, but also our relationship with water. Water has suddenly become everybody's business as households and the private sector have scrambled to secure alternate, off-mains supplies and improve their levels of water-use efficiency and independent water security. A 'New Normal' is going to require a diversification of water sources and a rethink of our current infrastructure. Catchments, aquifers and our water source areas are a critical component of that infrastructure. They require direct attention and investment as part of our future economic development. The natural links in our water value chain can no longer be allowed to fall through the administrative gaps between national government and water service providers. As we move to more decentralized use with thousands of individuals managing boreholes, recycling systems and rain water, we need to find a new model that enables us all to be both consumers and custodians of this our shared water resources."

To find out more about how citizens, companies and decision-makers have taken actions to push back Day Zero in recent months, visit

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Mondi joins WWF's Climate Savers business leadership programme

2018-03-07Wed, 07 Mar 2018 00:00:00 +0000

Global packaging and paper group adopts 2050 science-based targets to limit global temperature rise to under 2°C.  Vienna, Austria  – Mondi Group has joined the ranks of global climate leaders by signing up to Climate Savers, WWF's climate leadership programme for businesses. The packaging and paper group commits to reduce its specific production-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 0.25 t CO2e/t production by 2050. This commitment and others made as part of its participation in the flagship programme are in line with climate science targets required to limit global temperature rise to under 2°C.  Mondi's participation in Climate Savers is an extension of a strategic global partnership between Mondi and WWF that started in 2014. The partnership focuses on promoting environmental stewardship in the packaging and paper sector. In joining Climate Savers, Mondi commits to working to further reduce GHG emissions across its entire value chain and to taking actions to positively influence the packaging and paper industry as well as policy makers. Climate Savers members aim to transform businesses into low-carbon economy leaders. Peter Oswald, Chief Executive Officer, Mondi Group says, "As a global player in the packaging and paper industry, we are part of an energy intensive sector. We've managed to reduce our specific CO2 emissions by 38% since 2004 by focusing on operational efficiency and energy efficiency. We join the WWF Climate Savers programme to reinforce our long-standing commitment to climate change mitigation and to demonstrate to the rest of our industry that using energy efficiently is not only necessary for the environment, but also good for business. We are proud to confirm our commitment to the science-based target needed to keep global warming well below 2°C for our production-related emissions." Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate & Energy Practice says, "Climate change is one of the biggest threats of our future, with fundamental impacts on places, species and people everywhere.  To change things for the better, we need to start acting now. We welcome Mondi's efforts toward helping build a more sustainable business world and are happy to have them join the Climate Savers programme." To achieve its climate goals, Mondi has developed an ambitious programme to improve energy efficiency, replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, sustainably manage its forests and associated ecosystems, and source its raw materials responsibly. Mondi is also active in developing packaging and paper products that help its customers and consumers reduce their own carbon footprints. Mondi's Climate Savers agreement will run at least until the end of 2020, concurrent with phase two of its global partnership with WWF. ### Notes for Editors:Mondi's Climate Savers commitments and climate targets:Reduce scope 1 and 2 emissions*: Mondi commits to reduce production-related, absolute scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with evidence- based climate science targets to keep global warming below two degrees. This requires a reduction of specific production-related GHG emissions to 0.25 tonnes CO2e per tonne of saleable production by 2050. Reduce scope 3 emissions*: Mondi commits to improve data collection for its indirect GHG emissions along the value chain (Scope 3 emissions) and to set ambitious reduction targets in the field of its supply chain and transport of raw materials and products.Increase renewable energy: Mondi will investigate opportunities to increase renewable energy in a sustainable way and implement them where feasible. Be an agent of change: Mondi will work actively to positively influence the paper and packaging industry to join the movement and commit to keeping their production-related greenhouse gas emissions in line with the international[...]

Media Files:

Project Extraordinary: A novel challenge to 'make sustainability sexy'

2018-02-23Fri, 23 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000

The word 'sustainability' may bring a lot of adjectives to one's mind but 'desirable' or 'sexy' is rarely one of them. Sustainability is not often seen as a 'must have' and yet as we use and consume resources as if we had 1.7 earths, there is an urgent need for each of us to rethink how we can feed, fuel and power our society differently.On 21 February 2018, WWF-New Zealand and WiLD Studios (the short-film division of award winning international documentary filmmakers NHNZ, otherwise called Natural History NZ) launched a global video challenge to encourage the world's best creative teams to do just that.Project Extraordinary is an unprecedented competition inviting creative agencies around the globe to develop a short-form video concept that demonstrates how sustainability can be desirable, and sexy. The project aims to harness the full potential of creative genius to give sustainability a mainstream appeal and encourage one billion consumers globally to make more than 50 per cent of their purchases based on sustainability as one of the top three decision triggers by 2020.WWF-New Zealand CEO, Livia Esterhazy says, "When I worked in the advertising world, it constantly surprised and inspired me how creatives approached a problem and developed ideas to solve them. The degradation of our planet is the single-most pressing problem facing our very existence. This project is a bold idea to harness creative power globally to help build a future where people live in harmony with nature."Running from now until 12 April 2018, the competition is open to all registered creative, advertising or communications agencies around the world. Three concepts will be shortlisted as 'highly commended' by a distinguished and diverse jury to be subsequently filmed and produced by WiLD Studios in collaboration with the respective agencies. The Winner of The Extraordinary Award will be chosen from the three Highly Commended finished films, by Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International and the panel members of the 'How to Make Sustainability Sexy' forum taking place in Cannes in June 2018.Marco Lambertini says, "We know what we need to do; the science is there. The challenge is to make sustainability of our planet desirable. Inspirational. Let's get personal and real. We need to stop talking in generalities and show every consumer in every corner of the globe exactly how they can be part of the solution."With experts estimating only one percent of the materials used to produce consumer goods are still in use six months after sale, there is an urgent need to shift consumer attitudes and make sustainability a priority choice for people everywhere.WiLD Studios Executive Producer, Carolyn Managh explains, "This is a history-making opportunity for a creative agency. To go beyond the documentary format typically applied to this topic and find a sexy and relevant way to reinvent the way sustainability is pitched to global consumers is clearly no small feat. This is why we've opened the challenge up to the best creative minds around the world".To learn more and participate in Project Extraordinary, visit The winning film will premiere on Tuesday, 19 June 2018 in the Grand Auditorium Louis Lumière at Cannes Lions Advertising Festival.[...]

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Hong Kong Ivory Ban is Now Law: WWF Says it's Time to Close All Asian Illegal Wildlife Markets

2018-02-01Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:00:00 +0000

(image) [HONG KONG – 31 January 2018] - A ban on the domestic ivory trade with no compensation by 2021 and an increase in the maximum penalty for wildlife crime offences to 10 years was approved today by the Legislative Council. WWF welcomes the new legislation and would like to thank all the supporters that helped to make this happen.

"A ban on ivory sales with heavier penalties in Hong Kong shows a clear commitment towards the future of African elephants. This will help reverse the trend of elephant poaching and illegal ivory trafficking." said Cheryl Lo, Manager, Wildlife Crime. Hong Kong is the largest ivory city market in the world and a major transit hub for illegal wildlife trade due to low fines and sentences for traffickers and zero prosecutions of the criminal kingpins. 

China closed its legal ivory market at the end of 2017. All ivory trade in the country is now illegal, which may intensify Hong Kong's position as a preferred market for illegal ivory under the cover of remaining legal traders. The Hong Kong ban will help blunt this trend. There is also evidence that domestic ivory markets in Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Japan, and Myanmar are increasingly catering to visitors from China. Gavin Edwards, Conservation Director said, "This is the time to increase rather than to relax our efforts. With stronger sentences in Hong Kong, law enforcement should take a greater role in joint efforts to investigate and prosecute criminal wildlife syndicates. WWF calls on governments across Asia to follow China and Hong Kong's lead and close their ivory markets."

Since 2015, WWF-Hong Kong has been campaigning for a ban on the ivory trade and making wildlife crime a serious crime in Hong Kong. WWF's report, The Hard Truth, revealed several legal loopholes in Hong Kong's ivory regulations and published a Feasibility Study on the Ban of Hong Kong's Ivory Trade in 2016. Through these in-depth studies on the ivory trade in Hong Kong and various community engagement campaigns, we received enormous public support with 91,643 Hongkongers signing a petition in support of a ban. In response to calls from WWF and other NGOs, the government moved forward with the proposed five-year timetable to end the domestic ivory trade.

** WWF is happy to arrange interviews with our expert on this issue:
Cheryl Lo, Manager, Wildlife Crime
Gavin Edwards, Conservation Director

– END –
For more information, please contact WWF-Hong Kong:
Ms Connie Tam
Communications Manager
Tel:  2161 9634 / 9811 3804
Ms Rainy Siu
Assistant Communications Manager, Programmes
Tel: 2161 9624 / 9774 4959

Media Files:

Bulgarian government silently moves to open almost half of Pirin National Park to construction despite public concerns

2017-12-29Fri, 29 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Sofia, 29 December 2017 - In a surreptitious move, the government of Bulgaria approved on Thursday alarming new changes to the Pirin National Park management plan that could allow construction in up to 48 per cent of the park, a World Heritage site home to bears, chamois, wolves and centuries-old pine forests. The decision, announced a few days before Bulgaria takes over the Presidency of the European Council, comes a day after the closing of a public consultation on the proposed changes, launched on 22 November 2017, and offers no indication of its results. The current management plan of Pirin National Park expired in 2014 but remains in place while the new draft plan awaits a court ruling on its roll-out. WWF and other NGOs of the For the Nature coalition filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Administrative Court of Bulgaria in March 2017 following the environment and water ministry's decision that the new draft management plan did not require a Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment. "The new draft management plan for Pirin National Park is bad and highly contentious, but the changes to the current management plan are worse. The draft plan, for example, envisages construction on an area that is 12.5 times larger than the currently permitted area while the changes to the current plan open up 80 times more area for construction," said Katerina Rakovska, protected areas expert, WWF-Bulgaria. A letter sent by the Bansko Ski Zone concessioner Yulen AD as part of the public consultation for the new draft management plan, seen by WWF, outlined intentions for enlarging the ski zone to 333 km of runs and 113 km of ski lifts. While the current management plan only allows for construction in 0.6 per cent of the park's territory, with the new changes approved yesterday, such an extension could now be possible. "These amendments allow for even bigger construction in Pirin than the draft plan," added Rakovska. "It is very concerning that the government has moved to approve these changes, without any transparency on the public consultation and while the new draft plan is blocked by the country's administrative court precisely over concerns on its potential environmental impact." In November 2016, WWF launched an international campaign in support of Pirin National Park to highlight the importance of the site to people in Bulgaria and globally. Currently, over 108,000 people have signed the petition, urging Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to protect the World Heritage site and its pristine wildlife. Pirin was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. However, in 2010, UNESCO excluded the ski areas above the towns of Bansko and Dobrinishte from the World Heritage site, identifying them as part of the buffer zone due to the damages and destruction caused by construction around the Bansko ski zone. The installation of the facilities led to the clearance of more than 160 ha of forests, including old-growth trees aged between 120 and 300 years. Pirin is also a part of the Natura 2000 network of the European Union and WWF, together with other partner NGOs of the For the Nature coalition in Bulgaria, will signal to the European Commission the latest decision which violates European legislation on Natura 2000 areas. The coalition will also be appealing the decision in national courts.In November 2017, an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report stated that the conservation outlook of Pirin National Park in Bulgaria is of "significant concern", just one step prior to the final, "critical" stage. The report underlined the threats of disturbance and fragmentation of the site associated with the exclusion of the skiing areas as incompatible with its World Heritage status. ---ends---[...]

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From Sweden to Russia: European bison travel over 2,000 km as part of reintroduction efforts

2017-12-22Fri, 22 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) In the largest 'herd travel' of its kind, 17 European bison arrived from Sweden in Russia's Oksky nature reserve nursery today 22 December, as a part of efforts to re-establish bison populations and their genetic diversity in Russia. Raised in four breeding centres across Sweden – Boros, Kungsbun, Avesta and Eriksberg – the animals will form a new herd of bison in the Russian wild.

In their new country, the bison will initially be quarantined in the Oksky nature reserve breeding centre, established in 1959, in enclosures resembling natural settings as much as possible, to allow animals to be monitored and provided with veterinary assistance as necessary.

"It was a difficult journey, the bison travelled from faraway Sweden, through Finland, to the Ryazan region", said Natalya Dronova, coordinator of WWF-Russia's projects on rare species' conservation. "They crossed the Baltic Sea on a ferry, and then travelled almost 2,000 kilometres. We hope that newcomers will quickly adapt to the new home, feel great and start to breed. Their offspring will be released into nature in the European part of Russia and in the Caucasus".

The latest herd is the first group of European bison to arrive in the Oksky centre in over 15 years. Most of them will stay in the centre for breeding while the rest will be transferred to the Turmonsky sanctuary in Caucasus along with a group from the Oksky nature reserve to form the second free-living group of bison populations in North Ossetia. More than 400 bison calves have been born in the Oksky breeding centre since its creation, and around 250 of them have been released into the wild or resettled in other nurseries and zoos.

However, in recent years, experts have noted an increase in the number of bull calves among baby bison born in Russian nurseries indicating a low level of gene diversity among breeding parents. This not only threatens livestock numbers and breeding efforts but can also lead to an increased risk of infection and non-viable births. The arrival of new animals from Sweden, agreed between WWF-Russia and Sweden's Eriksberg Park, the largest natural park in Northern Europe, provides new hope for strengthening existing and new bison populations in Russia.

Once abundant in the region, habitat loss and rampant hunting drove European bison populations in Russia to extinction in the early twentieth century. Focused conservation efforts, including breeding and reintroduction efforts supported by WWF, have helped strengthen numbers over the past decades.

According to monitoring data from January 2016, natural groups in Russia are estimated to consist of around 760 bison making it the only species to successfully return to the wild after extermination. In the Tseisky and North Ossetian nature reserves, a replenishment of bison populations in 2010 and 2012, with support from WWF and partners, has shown to have a positive impact on breeding. At present, six to eight calves are estimated to be born each year. 

WWF-Russia has been working on helping establish a free-living bison population in the forests of the European part of Russia since 1996. Partners and supporters of the project include WWF-Sweden, WWF-Germany, WWF-Netherlands, EBCC (European Bison Conservation Center), Eriksberg Vilt&Natur AB and INGSTAD & CO AB.

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WWF welcomes China's national carbon emission trading system

2017-12-21Thu, 21 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) Beijing, 21 December 2017 – China's nationwide carbon emission trading system, launched on 19 December, marks an important step toward promoting a low carbon transition in the world's leading emitter of CO2, according to WWF.
Szeping LO, CEO of WWF-China, says the emissions trading system (ETS) could provide new impetus for China's low carbon development and the country's transition toward a low carbon economy by helping align its potential with commitments under the Paris Agreement.
"The ETS should be consistent with China's climate plan targets, and contribute to the implementation of Paris Agreement. An allowance allocation approach should make a gradual shift from free to auction, leading to more climate actions and greater investment in clean technologies," he said.
According to China's Future Generation 2.0 report in 2015, around 84 per cent of China's electricity generation can be met by renewable sources by mid-century if appropriate policies are put in place.
"An energy transition to renewables is economically feasible in the Chinese power sector. We hope the national carbon market meets its potential and provides a new and powerful push toward energy efficiency improvement and renewable development in power sector," Szeping added.
WWF is working toward helping accelerate the energy transition in China through policy research, pilot practice and international cooperation.
Notes for Editors
  1. Only China's power sector is covered in the preliminary stage of the ETS due to its relatively robust data and large proportion of total emissions. In the preliminary stage, more than 1,700 enterprises with over 3 billion tons CO2e will be covered, making the Chinese national ETS the biggest carbon market in the world. The government is expected to involve eight energy-intensive sectors including petrochemicals, chemicals, building materials, steel and iron in the future.
  1. ETS is one of the most important policy tools available to control greenhouse gas emissions. Establishing a national carbon market was identified as a key priority in China's Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), an important action for the implementation of Paris Agreement.
  1. In 2011, the NDRC approved seven pilot provinces and cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Hubei, Guangdong and Shenzhen) to carry out the Carbon Emissions Trading System. By November 2017, the seven pilot carbon markets covered nearly 3,000 key enterprises from more than 20 industries and traded 200 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), involving a total turnover of about 4.6 billion Yuan.
For further information, contact
WWF-China - Qing YI
WWF International - Mandy Jean Woods

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TRAFFIC Study: Japan's ivory market must close

2017-12-20Wed, 20 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Well-organized transnational criminal networks and a poorly regulated domestic market are among the factors making Japan a lucrative target for procuring ivory products for illegal export. In the continued absence of effective regulation and law enforcement, WWF and TRAFFIC are calling for the closure of Japan's domestic ivory market pursuant to CITES [1].Japan remains one of the world's largest domestic ivory markets, and is home to an active, though shrinking, ivory manufacturing industry. The country also boasts significant stockpiles of raw tusks in private ownership—a cultural legacy from its past trade.Ivory Towers: An Assessment of Japan's Ivory trade and domestic market, a TRAFFIC study released today, presents the findings from surveys and interviews conducted in both physical and online markets in Japan between May and September 2017.The report has revealed the growing trend for ivory in Japan's domestic antiques and tourist markets to be routinely purchased by visitors and agents for illegal ivory exports."Our findings show without doubt that Japan's largely unregulated domestic ivory market is contributing to illegal trade—a condition considered by Parties to CITES to warrant much stricter regulation and even the closure of the market," said Tomomi Kitade, an author of the report."It is imperative that Japan's role within international illegal ivory trade be recognized, and urgent steps taken to address the on-going illegal export and the regulatory gaps that are facilitating such criminal activity," added Kitade.Japan's domestic legislation has consistently come under scrutiny given concerns regarding both its enforcement and legislative efficacy in ensuring legal ivory trade.Current laws regulate ivory businesses, but not trade between individuals, except in cases where tusks are concerned.Proposed reforms to the domestic Law for the Conservation of Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (LCES) are scheduled to come into effect in June 2018. Although it was hoped that this reform would address critical loopholes, TRAFFIC's analysis has already uncovered serious flaws which threaten to continue undermining efforts to combat illegal activity.TRAFFIC has previously highlighted the contravention of domestic laws by Japanese ivory traders, and called for a nationwide clampdown on unscrupulous businesses.However, illegal activity continues to be widespread as covert interviews with ivory vendors found that 73 per cent were actively promoting purchase that lead to illegal ivory exports, even giving advice to visitors on how best to conceal ivory products without permits in luggage.The latest study's findings are supported by a review of ETIS [2] seizure records, which reveal a significant increase in illegal ivory exports from Japan, reaching a total of 2.42 tonnes of ivory seized between 2011 and 2016. In contrast, seizures concerning illegal imports over the same period totalled only 43 kg.Overall, activities captured in the ETIS data indicated a one-way trend in which ivory commodities were illegally exported from Japan to China, representing 95 per cent of all illegal export by weight and further strengthening the conclusion that Japan has become a source for illegal ivory bound for markets in East Asia.Online platforms were also found to be used for purchasing worked ivory products, with a recent seizure made by China's Customs authority in 2016 involving a staggering 1,639 pieces of worked ivory and carved tusks."This evidence acts as a timely reminder of the urgent need to shut down legal ivory markets which are exacerbating illegal trade. As we count down to 31 December marking the closure of China's legal ivory trade, we urge Japan and other key countries to follow suit. Re[...]

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Over 100 new species discovered in Southeast Asia's Greater Mekong region

2017-12-19Tue, 19 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) A crocodile lizard that is the inspiration behind an up-and-coming comic strip, a snail-eating turtle discovered in a bustling food market in Thailand, and a horseshoe bat that could fit right into a Star Wars movie...these are just three of the 115 new species discovered by scientists in the Greater Mekong region in 2016.
These, together with more than a hundred others such as a beautifully coloured frog found in the limestone karst mountains of Vietnam and two mole species from Cambodia, bring the total number of new species of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians discovered in the region, between 1997 and 2016, to an astonishing 2,524.

More than 2,500 new species in 20 years

"More than two new species a week and 2,500 in the past 20 years speaks to how incredibly important the Greater Mekong is to global biodiversity," said Stuart Chapman who heads WWF's work in the Greater Mekong. "While the threats to the region are many, these discoveries give us hope that species from the tiger to the turtle will survive."
The discovery of the new species of 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles, 88 plants and three mammals in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam comes at a critical time. The Greater Mekong region is under intense pressure from unsustainable development of mines, roads and dams, threatening the survival of the natural landscapes that make it so unique.
In addition, poaching and the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade are also decimating wildlife populations in the region, especially in the Golden Triangle, where Laos, Thailand and Myanmar meet. The scale of wildlife crime is such that sadly, species could be lost before they are even discovered.

Stopping illegal wildlife trade essential 

"The species in the Greater Mekong are like works of art, and deserve protection from unscrupulous collectors who are willing to pay thousands of dollars or more for the rarest, most unique and most endangered species," added Chapman.
WWF has launched an ambitious project to disrupt illegal wildlife trade through the closure of the biggest markets in the Greater Mekong region. Working with partners and across borders, WWF aims to help significantly reduce illegal trade in key threatened species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos by promoting species protection legislation, supporting effective transboundary cooperation and improving law enforcement effectiveness at key border crossings. Find out more about our work in the Greater Mekong region

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First ever tagging of Amazon dolphins to boost conservation efforts

2017-12-05Tue, 05 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) For the first time ever, WWF and research partners  are now tracking river dolphins in the Amazon using satellite technology after scientists successfully tagged dolphins in Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia, attaching small transmitters that will provide new insights into the animals' movements and behaviour and the growing threats they face.

As of today, 11 dolphins, including both Amazonian and Bolivian river dolphins – two of the four species of freshwater dolphin found in the world's largest river system – have safely been tagged and researchers are already studying the incoming data.

Despite their iconic status, little is known about the populations, habits or key habitats of river dolphins in the Amazon. While there are estimated to be tens of thousands of river dolphins, the species are currently listed as Data Deficient on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The tags will enable WWF and its partners to study where the dolphins go, where they feed, and how far they migrate.

"Satellite tracking will help us better understand the lives of this iconic Amazonian species more than ever before, helping to transform our approach to protecting them and the entire ecosystem," said Marcelo Oliveira, WWF Conservation Specialist, who led the expedition in Brazil. "Tagging these dolphins is the start of a new era for our work because we will finally be able to map where they go when they disappear from sight."

The tracking data will also guide efforts to tackle some of the major threats facing river dolphins, including hundreds of planned dams that would fragment many of the Amazon's remaining free flowing rivers, worsening mercury contamination from small-scale gold mining, and illegal fishing.

"We who live in the Amazon know that our environment is facing growing and unprecedented threats and that our future is linked to the future of dolphins," said Fernando Trujillo from Fundación Omacha, a Colombian research partner.

"This tagging project is critical because it will generate information that will enable governments across the region to target resources to protect dolphins and their habitats, which so many other species and communities also depend on," added Trujillo.
The capture and tagging of the dolphins followed a rigid protocol that prioritises the welfare of the animals. Having been caught in nets by teams of specialists, the dolphins were taken to shore for tagging in an operation lasting 15 minutes on average, before being released back into the water. None of the dolphins were injured during the operation and none displayed any ill effects after release.
Along with installing the transmitters, the scientists also took samples from the animals, which they will analyse for mercury levels and general health.

WWF and its partners will assess this historic tagging operation over the coming months and will look to scale it up and tag more dolphins if the technology continues to prove successful. The initiative is the latest step in WWF's long-term efforts to conserve river dolphins across the Amazon.
In addition to scientific research, WWF will continue to work with communities, advocate with authorities and promote the creation of new protected areas.

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Eleventh hour support for vaquitas at CITES meeting but urgent action still needed on tackling illegal wildlife trade globally

2017-12-02Sat, 02 Dec 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Geneva, 2 December 2017 - The 69th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has come to a close in Geneva having tackled the largest agenda with the largest number of participants ever.  In the final hour of the week-long session, Mexico, China and the United States made a surprise agreement to convene a high-level diplomatic mission to help stop the extinction of the vaquita, the world's smallest porpoise, commonly referred to as the 'Panda of the Sea'. The government of Mexico raised the issue noting the severity of the crisis facing vaquitas, and was supported by the United States and China. The high-level mission will support the much needed actions to address the significant challenges faced in ending the illegal totoaba fishing and trafficking.  Leigh Henry, Director of Wildlife Policy at WWF-US, said: "It's been said before that it's the eleventh hour to save the vaquita: there are fewer than thirty individuals remaining and illegal fishing of totoaba is driving this elusive porpoise to extinction. "Coming at the close of the meeting, Mexico's willing support for a high-level mission to assist their efforts to combat the illegal totoaba trade grants the world's most endangered marine mammal a lifeline. Drowning in nets set for totoaba is the only known threat to vaquita in their habitat." WWF works with Mexico, as well as the US and China, to implement urgent measures to save the vaquita, and to secure a gillnet-free Upper Gulf of California that supports both their survival and the livelihoods of local communities. The CITES meeting also discussed other pressing wildlife trade issues impacting some of the planet's most endangered species.  The Committee sent a strong message to Lao PDR on a number of issues including tiger farms, Siamese rosewood, legislation and enforcement, and widespread illegal wildlife markets. Rob Parry-Jones, WWF's lead on wildlife crime said: "Lao's inadequate enforcement is facilitating widespread illegal trade in threatened species, including tiger, elephant and rhino. We appreciate the cooperative spirit that they showed in the meeting but this must be followed by action as a matter of urgency." Laos has to submit a detailed and time-bound plan of action by the end of the year, and a progress report by end of June 2018. Failure to submit the implementation plan or to demonstrate adequate progress could result in sanctions against the country. Regarding pangolins, the Secretariat interpreted the provisions of the Convention to allow commercial trade in pangolin stocks acquired before the trade ban came into force in January 2017, but this view was rejected by majority vote. Colman O Criodain, WWF's wildlife policy manager said:"We were surprised by the Secretariat's interpretation. Had it stood it could have facilitated widespread unsustainable and illegal trade." The Committee also struggled to agree on robust recommendations on the issue of Madagascar's ebonies, rosewoods and palisanders. Madagascar was seeking leave to sell its stockpiles of these valuable timbers, despite the fact that none of these stocks have been audited to date and that there is large-scale illegal trade. Fortunately this request was rejected.  Michel Masozera, WWF's deputy leader for wildlife for Africa said:"The widespread illegal logging of precious timbers from the World Heritage Site, the Rainforests of the Atsinanana, undermines livelihood and development options for Madagascar and damages the habitat of unique species such as lemurs. The internatio[...]

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WWF statement on Stiegler's Gorge

2017-11-29Wed, 29 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000

WWF is today asking potential investors, banks and construction companies not to invest in or lend to controversial hydropower dam Stiegler's Gorge, until a full Strategic Environmental Assessment has been carried out. Proposed to be built at the heart of Selous Game Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Tanzania, WWF wants the true impacts of the dam to first be assessed and the World Heritage Committee to give its approval. The proposed dam would endanger the livelihoods of 200,000 local people and the reserve's rare wildlife, such as elephants and black rhinos, would be placed under even greater threat.WWF wants to ensure that investors, banks and construction companies are aware of these risks, as well as the opportunities around alternative renewable energy sources in Tanzania that don't carry the negative consequences for the nature and the people who depend on this World Heritage site. Anthony Field, WWF-International campaign manager, said:"UNESCO has a clear position that dam projects that harm World Heritage sites should not be built. So far no assessment has been carried out for Stiegler's Gorge hydropower project. Companies who become involved in the project run the risk of significant reputational damage. We are asking investors, banks and those in the construction industry that work on dams to add Stiegler's Gorge to their risk register." FURTHER INFORMATION WWF commissioned research on the impacts of the dam that highlighted the large risks to the ecology, economy and livelihoods. In the Selous Game Reserve, it will create one of the largest reservoirs in East Africa, flooding 1,200km2 including critical habitat for black rhinos. It will impact on current tourism in Selous as well as future potential tourism that the World Bank and German Government are investing in. Its impacts will stretch far downstream. The project is against Tanzanian law as no Strategic Environmental Assessment has been carried out in advance of the planning for the project and tender being issued. The risk has been recognised by UNESCO World Heritage Committee and its statutory advisor the IUCN who have highlighted "the high likelihood of serious and irreversible damage to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property resulting from the Stiegler's Gorge Hydropower project" and have urged the Tanzania state party to abandon the project. In addition UNESCO World Heritage Committee has a position against dams with large reservoirs that harm World Heritage properties. The natural characteristics of the site on which this project is proposed will make it near impossible to satisfy best practice environmental due diligence standards on Hydroelectric from the International Finance Corporation, particularly in relation to mitigating impacts on indigenous persons, water, protected areas and endangered species. This leaves investors possibly exposed to grievance procedures brought by civil society through, for instance, the OECD Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises. More information about WWF's work to protect the Selous Game Reserve UNESCO World Heritage Site can be found here: In April 2016 WWF launched a campaign, Together, Saving Our Shared Heritage, which aims to safeguard natural World Heritage sites. Over 1.5 million people have taken advocacy actions to political and business leaders including the leaders of Belize, Bulgaria, Spain, Mexico and Tanzania: [...]

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Revealed: New WWF report unveils the unseen benefits of saving wild tigers

2017-11-27Mon, 27 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Money invested by governments, aid agencies and funds raised by supporters across the globe to save wild tigers have unseen benefits for Asia's wildlife and millions of people, according to a new WWF report - Beyond the Stripes: Save tigers, save so much more.  Tiger landscapes - which range from the world's largest mangrove forests in the Sundarbans, to temperate forests in the snowy mountains of Bhutan - overlap with globally-important ecosystems, many of which are part of Asia's last wilderness. These biodiversity-rich areas harbour a wealth of critically important goods and services that millions of people rely on, from mitigating climate change and safeguarding freshwater to reducing the impact of natural disasters and improving the health of local people. The report highlights that securing tiger landscapes could help protect at least nine major watersheds, which regulate and provide freshwater for up to 830 million people in Asia, including in urban areas across India, Malaysia and Thailand. Similarly, safeguarding tiger landscapes could, in turn, protect the last remaining forests critical for carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate climate change. "Every dollar invested in saving the wild tiger also helps save many threatened species, and ecosystem services that are critical to millions of people," said Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF Tigers Alive. "Protecting the vast landscapes where tigers thrive helps to regulate freshwater, reduce the impacts of climate change and provide a source of clean air, medicinal plants, jobs, and so much more." Yet, wild tigers are endangered, and their habitats are threatened; having lost 95 per cent of their global range, the cats are now confined to fragmented populations in Asia's surviving forest habitats. Even in the remaining range where tigers roam, close to half (43 per cent) of the present suitable tiger habitat could soon be lost to unsustainable agriculture expansion and urbanization, the report warns. Forest loss continues at an alarming rate in tiger range states. Malaysia and Indonesia are among the world's leading producers of carbon emissions linked to forest degradation. If such trends persist, more key tiger landscapes could switch from absorbing carbon to becoming net carbon emitters. In Sumatra alone, the only place in the world where tigers, orangutans and rhinos are found in the same habitat, deforestation has reduced natural forest cover by more than 50 per cent in the past three decades. "The success of protecting wild tigers is a perfect indicator for Asia's sustainable development. With Asia's rapid economic expansion, prioritizing tiger conservation will significantly aid in securing natural capital that is necessary to meet the region's sustainable development goals," said Baltzer. "Protecting tiger landscapes achieves a win-win for tigers, and for our future generations. But if we fail to save wild tigers, we may fail to save much more." As an apex predator, tigers need vast landscapes to thrive, sharing their home with many other endangered species, such as the Asian elephant, leopard, and orangutan. Protecting the tiger's habitat thus helps to protect other threatened wildlife, including endangered but lesser known species that would otherwise receive little support – such as the pignose frog that spends most of its life underground, and is found only in the mountainous Western Ghats of India, where tigers have helped to spearhead the protection of natural sites. ---ends--- Notes to Editor:This report is launched on the seventh anniversar[...]

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New protected area in Congo basin is bigger than Switzerland

2017-11-22Wed, 22 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000

(image) The creation today of one of the world's largest wetland protected areas (WPA) in the Democratic Republic of Congo will help to conserve a critically important part of the Congo basin, providing greater protection for its rich biodiversity and securing vital water supplies for many communities.

Measuring almost 4.5 million hectares – an area larger than Switzerland – the Lufira Basin in southerastern DRC has been designated a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar convention. Covering a network of rivers, lakes, floodplains and swamp forests as well as four national protected areas, the massive new WPA is home to a wealth of wildlife, including many endemic fish, bird and reptile species and the rare Upemba lechwe.

The area also boasts some spectacular waterfalls including the 384-metre high Lofoï, which is the highest waterfall in Africa and the second highest in the world.

"WWF is delighted that this extraordinary wetland has been recognised as an area of international importance and will now be protected under Ramsar," said Bruno Perodeau, WWF DRC's Conservation Director. "Strengthening the protection of the Lufira Basin is a significant step towards effective conservation of this area and the long term welfare of communities that depend on this wetland and the unique wildlife that lives there."

It is symbolic that the creation of one the top 15 WPAs on earth comes just after the Climate Conference in Bonn given the increasing awareness about the role that healthy wetlands can play in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Along with helping to maintain water supplies and minimise the impact of extreme floods, some wetlands also act as important carbon sinks.

The new Ramsar site is the fourth in the DRC, bringing its total wetland area under protection to almost 12 million hectares.

"The Congo Basin is a global conservation priority and its future is dependent on the health of its countless rivers and other wetlands," said Perodeau. "WWF will continue working with the government and communities to improve the management of these areas especially in the light of growing global climate threats. Effective management will help to maintain the ecosystem services that the site already provides, and ensure that it remains resilient in the face of unpredictable environmental changes."

With the announcement of the Lufira Basin site, WWF has now supported the protection of over 105 million hectares of wetlands around the world under Ramsar in the past twenty years.

The designation of the new Ramsar site was supported by USAID along with German assistance.

The news also follows the designation in June of the largest transnational Ramsar site, Lac Télé Lac Tumba, which unified neighbouring wetland protected areas in DRC and the Republic of Congo. This unified site is home to the largest tropical peat bog in the world, which stores up to 30 billion tonnes of carbon, highlighting its important role in the fight against climate change

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Unacceptable rise in catch quota for bluefin tuna! WWF protests

2017-11-21Tue, 21 Nov 2017 00:00:00 +0000

Rome – Brussels – As the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting closed its doors in Morocco, WWF is deeply disappointed with ICCAT's decision to drastically increase catch quotas for bluefin tuna when the recovery of the stock is not confirmed yet. WWF also deplores the lack of progress made to improve the fate of shortfin mako shark, blue shark and tropical tuna populations.As WWF feared, ICCAT has adopted an increase in bluefin catch quotas up to 36,000 tonnes by 2020 which is the highest total allowable catch ever set for bluefin tuna. Scientists warn that bluefin tuna stock is not yet recovered and is expected to decrease with such a catch level."WWF is angered that ICCAT has chosen short-term economic profit when we had hoped for a long-term conservation victory" declared Alessandro Buzzi, Fisheries project manager at WWF.WWF fears that the ICCAT scientific committee's weak and confusing advice may have led ICCAT to go for this drastic quota increase this year. WWF asks the scientific committee therefore to improve its methodology in order to deliver robust and clear scientific advice in the future."We have been fighting for the last 10 years to save bluefin tuna, we are so near recovery that it is a scandal to see ICCAT going back to business as usual; this could jeopardize all the progress we've made."WWF welcomes the adoption of harvest control rules for North Atlantic albacore. This is the first time ICCAT has adopted this innovative approach, and it definitely paves the way for the long-term management of other ICCAT species.WWF is dismayed that ICCAT did not establish catch limits for shortfin mako shark, when the population is at risk of collapse. Nevertheless WWF recognizes that the adopted plan for North Atlantic mako could be a positive first step, but only if nations implement the plan's measures in 2018 and start the process of rebuilding the stock in 2019 as agreed in the plan.WWF regrets that no action has been taken for South Atlantic mako, which remains totally unregulated. Existing weak measures for blue shark stocks have also seen no improvement.WWF is also very concerned that no decisions were made to stop overfishing of tropical tuna, undermining the current plans for bigeye tuna and yellowfin tuna, not respected by nations. WWF urges for the adoption of global best practices to reduce FAD-related juvenile mortality and bycatch. In addition, WWF asks for more observers on long liners and for strong control on all at-sea trans-shipment, to fight illegal fishing. Online feature The battle for the bluefin:  For more information:Anne Rémy, WWF Mediterranean, Director of Communications,,+ 39 06 844 97 424, mobile + 39 338 66 06 287Alessandro Buzzi, WWF Mediterranean, Fisheries Projects Manager,,+ 39 06 844 97 443, mobile + 39 346 23 57 481   [...]

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