Across these six countries, almost 80% of great apes live outside the nationally and internationally protected areas. WWF’s Great Apes Programme Manager David Greer says:
“Central African governments have demonstrated increased willingness to protect the dwindling populations of gorillas and chimpanzees. Now bold steps are needed to ensure that existing wildlife laws are upheld and that weak governance, which results in widespread impunity for wildlife traffickers, is eliminated, to give great apes the opportunity to survive and thrive.”
Although the previous plan from 2005 helped slow the decline of ape populations, growing human populations and expanding industries are putting pressure on the remaining apes. The new plan addresses these issues by identifying 18 landscapes as critical for the animals’ survival. In addition, the plan calls for improvements in law enforcement, management of great ape habitats and land-use planning.
The new plan was published by WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Wildlife Conservation Society and partners and was funded by the Arcus Foundation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Great Apes Survival Partnership. It is the combined work of 70 conservationists, scientists, wildlife health experts and wildlife authorities, protected area managers donors from the six countries in the region.
103 wild tigers were counted in Bhutan this year – a huge jump from the previous estimate of just 75.
The survey was conducted by Bhutanese scientists and spanned habitats from snowy mountains in the north to subtropical forests in the south. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) worked closely with the Bhutan government to provide funds and technical support. The tigers were identified by their stripes, which, like human fingerprints, are unique to each animal.
“This is a critical milestone in the global effort to save tigers. Bhutan is one of only 13 tiger range countries, and knowing how many tigers exist is the first step towards effectively protecting them. We applaud Bhutan’s efforts to set this tiger population baseline.”
Like Bhutan, other countries have performed national tiger surveys with India, Russia and Nepal reporting higher numbers than previous estimates. Bangladesh reported lower numbers in its first national survey and Malaysia reported a drastic drop from 500 in 2010 to as few as 250. The numbers for tigers in Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar are unknown.
Poaching and habitat loss are the major threats to remaining wild tigers in Southeast Asian countries. There could be as few as 3,200 left in the wild and counting them is the first step in protecting and conserving these majestic big cats. Although surveys are expensive, labor intensive and often in difficult climate and weather conditions, the results are more than worthwhile.
We are now one step closer to protecting one of the most magnificent and biodiverse places on Earth: the Great Barrier Reef.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee has voted to continue pressuring Australia to deliver on its promise to restore the reef, making it only a matter of months before we see a full ban on dumping there.
This feat was made possible because of the support of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. More than 500,000 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) supporters from 177 countries called on world leaders to defend the reef.
UNESCO’s decision requires Australia to deliver effective and sustained protection of the Great Barrier Reef from reckless industrialization, pollution and other threats. To monitor, Australia must provide reports on its progress, with its first report due in 18 months.
WWF expects that a full ban on dumping in the reef’s World Heritage waters will become real in a few months. Director General of WWF International Marco Lambertini states:
“Australia has promised to prioritize the health of the reef over damaging activities like dumping dredge spoil. UNESCO will be watching to ensure that the condition of the reef improves in coming years, as will the 550,000 WWF campaign supporters and millions of people worldwide who are deeply concerned and want to see a stop to industrial destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.”
In the decision, the World Heritage Committee expressed continued concern about the decline of reef habitats and wildlife populations. The committee also warned of the reef’s poor overall outlook due to long-term threats of pollution and climate change, calling for necessary action to protect this beautiful ecosystem.