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MWITU’S MEMO

 

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I don’t know about you, butഀ I’ve been walking around with a real spring in my stepഀ lately. Okay, maybe that was a bad pun, but I do love theഀ warmer weather and the feeling that people are starting toഀ head outdoors again.
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ഀ We’ve been seeing some interesting activity in theഀ Modderfontein Reserve, which is managed by the EWT, includingഀ the first ever sighting of a Large-spotted Genet (Genetta tigrina
)ഀ on our camera traps. The reserve is a fantastic pocket ofഀ conservation in the middle of an urban setting, and this isഀ just more evidence that nature truly is always on ourഀ doorstep. September was Tourism Month in South Africa, asഀ well as the month in which we celebrate our heritage, so I’dഀ like to encourage you to be a tourist in your own country,ഀ celebrate our natural heritage, and make the most of theseഀ oases of nature, even if you find yourself in an urbanഀ setting. Why not let us know where you like to go toഀ celebrate nature?

ഀ Feel free to pop me a mail at Mwitu@ewt.org.za
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ഀ ‘Til next time
ഀ Mwitu

 

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A WORD FROM THE CEO

 

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Conservation works! Yes, wellഀ planned, well executed, long term conservation action doesഀ work! Too often one hears only the sad stories, about howഀ wildlife is being pushed to the brink. And in a world whereഀ human beings are increasingly destroying habitats, wildഀ places and wiping out species at an unprecedented rate, thisഀ is unfortunately true. However, conservation action canഀ and does save wildlife. In just the past few weeks theഀ International Union for Conservation of Nature announced thatഀ the Snow Leopard is no longer an Endangered species, as aഀ result of more than four decades of concerted and successfulഀ conservation action. In the newsletter below, you will alsoഀ read about just a few of the recent successes enjoyed by theഀ EWT as a result of our dedicated staff and partners, who workഀ towards finding solutions that work. Despite being deeplyഀ saddened by the ongoing loss of rhino at the hands ofഀ poachers, we also know that many hundreds of injured rhinoഀ and orphaned calves remain alive today due to the passionateഀ and dedicated commitment of the NGOs and civil societyഀ organisations that work around the clock to save them all.ഀ Many more rhino are live today than would have beenഀ otherwise, if not for conservation at work.
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ഀ Conservation is not about quick fixes. It is about workingഀ tirelessly to find solutions at the level of communities,ഀ landowners, policy makers, educators, scientists,ഀ businesspeople and so on. It is human-centric and complex andഀ requires long-term investments and multi-party engagement. Asഀ a result it is often difficult to measure and the triumphsഀ are often celebrated as milestones and not as completions. Inഀ just the past few weeks, the EWT has been able to celebrate aഀ series of milestones ranging from the successful release of aഀ new pack of Wild Dogs into the Kruger National Park, to theഀ gazetting of a national Management Plan for an Endangeredഀ frog; from the initiation of the Soutpansberg Protected Areaഀ to the discovery of a few more of South Africa’s mostഀ Endangered toad, the Amathole Toad.
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ഀ I am proud to be part of the solution and as an EWTഀ supporter, you should be too! As we celebrate South Africa’sഀ remarkable natural heritage in September, Heritage Month, weഀ are pleased to be part of the solution as a team that isഀ looking after our heritage and keeping it alive forഀ generations to come.  The EWT IS Conservation in Action,ഀ and it works.ഀ We work!  
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ഀ Happy Heritage Day.
ഀ Yolan
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PROJECT NEWS

 

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Criticallyഀ Endangered vulture takes flight again


Andreഀ Botha, Special Projects Manager
andreb@ewt.org.za


ഀ In June this year, a juvenile White-headed Vulture was foundഀ grounded on the Mjejane Private Nature Reserve, which bordersഀ onto the southern Kruger National Park. This coincided with aഀ spate of Egyptian Goose poisonings that was taking place inഀ the area, so we feared that the bird may have fed on aഀ poisoned carcass or bait, and rushed to save its life. Weഀ were determined that this would be a survival story, and soഀ we named the bird Ofentse, meaning conqueror or victorious inഀ Sotho.



ഀ Ofentse was immediately taken to the State Veterinarians atഀ Skukuza, where our fears were confirmed – this was a case ofഀ poisoning. Once Ofentse had been stabilised and receivedഀ initial treatment, this special bird was then moved toഀ Moholoholo by Lindy Thompson from the Hooded Vulture Project,ഀ and EWT Pel’s Fishing Owl Survey volunteer, John Davies.ഀ After extensive treatment and flight-fitness training, andഀ one failed attempt at release, Ofentse was finally able toഀ return to the skies in mid-August. Based on data from the GSMഀ tracking unit that was attached before this incredibleഀ vulture was released in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve,ഀ Ofentse seems to be adjusting to his newfound freedom. Thisഀ data shows that Ofentse travelled more than 200 km in just aഀ few weeks, a feat that would not be possible if he was notഀ eating well as well.


ഀ This is a great example of how rapid response and appropriateഀ treatment of poisoning victims can make all the difference,ഀ especially with regard to Critically Endangered species suchഀ as the White-headed Vulture, where every individual that canഀ be saved counts. This certainly applies in this instance, asഀ we know that the Kruger itself has less than 50 breedingഀ pairs of this beautiful bird at the moment.



ഀ If you’d like to donate to the EWT’s vulture emergency fund,ഀ and help save birds like Ofentse, click here and use theഀ reference ‘Vulture SOS’

Thanksഀ to John Davies and Lindy Thompson who collected the bird andഀ liaised with Moholoholo in terms of its condition andഀ suitability for release, and to Ralph Buij from Wageningenഀ University for making available the tracking unit to followഀ the bird's movements post-release.
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Patron Supporters
ഀ (R250,000 and above per annum)

 

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Elizabethഀ Wakeman Henderson Charitable Foundation

 

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Rattingഀ on Wildlife Crime
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We all knowഀ that dogs have an amazing sense of smell and that they can beഀ trained to sniff out a variety of things from drugs to ammunitionsഀ and even cancer cells.  Dogs are often used in national portsഀ of entry and exit to detect wildlife contraband like rhino horn andഀ elephant ivory.  While dogs are a very effective and valuableഀ tool in in the fight against wildlife crime, they are not alwaysഀ suited to working in all environments. 
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Kellyഀ Marnewick of the EWT Wildlife in Trade Programme with some of the ratഀ trainers at APOPO in Morogoro, Tanzania.


ഀ Shipping ports provide a very challenging environment for lawഀ enforcement as they move thousands of huge containers daily (theഀ Dar es Salaam port moves over 600,000 containers per day). ഀ Disruptions in port operations are exceptionally costly, andഀ inefficiencies cost some ports in the billions of US$ perഀ annum.  Searching all these containers is logisticallyഀ difficult and time consuming and in some of the best run ports inഀ the world, only 3% of all incoming containers are scanned withഀ x-ray. Thus a novel method needs to be found to effectively detectഀ wildlife contraband in this challenging environment.

ഀ Giant African Pouched Rats could be the solution!  They can beഀ trained to detect and indicate items, are fully trained in a coupleഀ of months, will work with any handler, can be trained byഀ middle-school graduates and are relatively easy to keep andഀ transport.  Importantly, they are small and can be easilyഀ transported in confined environments – like ports. The EWT Wildlifeഀ in Trade Programme has partnered with APOPO in Tanzania, an NGOഀ that focuses on training Giant African Pouched Rats to detectഀ various items of interest.  Their flagship projects train ratsഀ to detect landmines and tuberculosis and they have already detectedഀ over 13,000 landmines in Mozambique and over 9,000 new tuberculosisഀ cases. 

ഀ The EWT and APOPO are investigating the viability of training theseഀ rats to detect wildlife contraband in shipping ports and ഀ APOPO has been training 11 Giant Pouched Rats for the EWT, toഀ detect pangolin scales and a hard wood called black wood or Dalbergia. ഀ The rats have thus far performed very well and they are able toഀ detect a target scent amongst other items that are commonlyഀ transported with the contraband like coffee, socks, electricalഀ cables and dengu beans. The next step is to develop a system thatഀ will be suitable for the port environment, which will be done inഀ collaboration with port and customs authorities to ensure that theഀ system is both workable for the rats and practical.  It isഀ also important to measure exactly how effective the rats are inഀ detecting contraband, so we will also be chemically measuring howഀ much pangolin and hard wood needs to be present in a container toഀ be detected by the rats.  We believe that this is just theഀ beginning of us discovering the many uses for these rats in theഀ wildlife sector – imagine them searching vehicles at reserve gates!

This projectഀ is funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
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Wildlife in Tradeഀ Programme & Transnational Wildlife Crime
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Over theഀ week 4 September, the EWT Wildlife in Trade (WIT) programmeഀ attended a Counter-Transnational Organized Crime presented byഀ Freeland. This course focuses on transnational organized crime,ഀ which is not unique to wildlife, the modalities and practicalsഀ however were specific to illegal wildlife trade. The courseഀ considered the 9 pillars of transnational organized crime whichഀ include interഀ alia investigation techniques, handling of evidence andഀ interview techniques. This course was kindly funded by the USഀ Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

Wildlifeഀ crime analysis training
ഀ We conducted our third two-week training course on wildlife crimeഀ analysis at the South African Wildlife College during the last twoഀ weeks of August 2017. We had five participants from a wide range ofഀ backgrounds within the wildlife sector, including North West Parksഀ Board, The South African Police Service Endangered Species Unit andഀ the private wildlife sector. The training forms part of a projectഀ funded by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Lawഀ Enforcement with the objective to train conservation managers toഀ use data collected by field rangers to improve the effectiveness ofഀ anti-poaching patrols.
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                                  ഀ                    Participants ofഀ Wildlife crime analysis training

Flagshipഀ species training course
ഀ In August the EWT WIT Programme hosted the forth Speciesഀ Identification Training Intervention in Durban, which wasഀ exclusively attended by members of the South African Revenueഀ Service. This training programme was developed to provide focusedഀ training on terrestrial, marine, reptile and bird speciesഀ susceptible to and / or common in illegal wildlife trade. Thisഀ training was made possible by funding received from the Hans Hoheisenഀ Charitable Trust.


Particpants ofഀ the Species Identification Training Intervention

 

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Conservationഀ Canines Can!


ഀ The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife in Trade Programme supportsഀ anti-poaching efforts at the frontline through supplying trainedഀ highly trained Conservation Canines to assist with tracking andഀ detecting of wildlife contraband and ammunition.  The latestഀ additions to our crime fighting canine team are two dogs, Conservationഀ Canines Grizzly and Alice, who have gone down to the Great Fishഀ Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Their handlers travelled forഀ two days to get to the Southern African Wildlife College to collectഀ these canine heroes and undergo the handover training to ensure aഀ smooth transition. They then set upon the long journey back to theഀ Eastern Cape where they are now all settling in, getting used toഀ the new environment and bonding with each other before going out onഀ the beat. They will be used in anti-poaching patrols on theഀ reserve, to follow tracks from fence incursions and to trackഀ poachers away from poaching incidents (a skill we hope they neverഀ get to use). Great Fish is a large reserve and has rugged terrainഀ and with the increasing threat of rhino poaching the Conservationഀ Canines will provide valuable assistance to the reservesഀ anti-poaching efforts.

ഀ Conservation Canine Annie who was recently place at Moholoholoഀ Forest Reserve on the western boundary of Kruger is also doing veryഀ well.  Here she forms part of the district level security planഀ and works with various role-players when the need arises.  Sheഀ has settled in well: she has started working at night in the fieldഀ and has even done her first couple of helicopter trips.  Thisഀ is a difficult environment for a dog as helicopters are noisy,ഀ windy and they have to get in and out of them in all sorts ofഀ situations, but helicopters are vital response tools to a poachingഀ incident.  Imagine you can get off the ground, get a visual ofഀ the poacher, then drop your dog and handler teams off in closeഀ proximity to track the poachers? Annie was initially a littleഀ unsure of this whole flying thing to start with, but soon settledഀ in and is now taking it all in her stride. In her down time sheഀ likes to rest on the couch and play with her handler’s child. 
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Pic:ഀ Conservation Canine Annie with her handler Colin Patrick © Beckyഀ Patrick


ഀ Conservation Canine Vito is shining at Kapama Game Reserve and is aഀ real ambassador of the EWT Conservation Programme.  A fewഀ weeks ago she found some poacher’s ammunition in long grass afterഀ an incursion was detected on a neighbouring property.  Sheഀ worked in collaboration with the local security community andഀ together they managed to prevent a poaching incident thatഀ evening. 

ഀ Conservation Canines can form a vital part of a well-managedഀ security strategy.  They require a large amount of time andഀ energy in their training but they pay dividends in the impact ofഀ their work. The EWT is privileged to partner with a number ofഀ reserves and dedicated handlers who are passionate about their dogsഀ and making a difference in conservation.

This projectഀ is supported by the Hans Hoheisen Charitable Trust.
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Biodiversity for betterഀ business


ഀ Shelley Lizzio, National Biodiversity and Business Network Manager
shelleyl@ewt.org.za

ഀ Natural resources are essential for human survival, and in almostഀ all cases, essential for the success of businesses too. Woolworthsഀ South Africa is a good example of a South African business thatഀ understands this important connection. Woolworths recognises that,ഀ through its supply chain, it both depends, and has an impact onഀ natural resources. These natural resources include, amongst otherഀ things, clean water, raw materials, soils, and biodiversity - fromഀ the plants that provide us with fruit and vegetables to the beesഀ that pollinate them. To manage the associated business risks andഀ opportunities, Woolworths works with many of its suppliers toഀ better manage their biodiversity impacts and dependencies. Forഀ example, together with farmers, Woolworths is pioneering a newഀ approach to growing food sustainably and in harmony withഀ biodiversity. They aim to enable South Africa’s farms to provideഀ enough food for future generations without compromising quality,ഀ adding to the cost or having detrimental impacts on biodiversity.ഀ This is Woolworths’ “Farming for the Future” approach, which isഀ reducing the use of added nutrients, optimising production andഀ limiting waste. All of this whilst saving the company money andഀ building a resilient supply chain.  

ഀ More and more forward thinking organisations are realising that, inഀ order to remain competitive, they need to ensure the resilience ofഀ the natural resources on which the profitability of theirഀ businesses rely. By tackling the problems associated with theirഀ impacts and dependencies on natural resources proactively, they areഀ able to better manage these, and are in fact able to identifyഀ financial opportunities that come with the careful management ofഀ natural resources.

ഀ To learn more about these opportunities and possible solutions,ഀ join us on 24 and 25 October 2017 at the third annual National Biodiversityഀ and Business Indaba, which is taking place atഀ Hatch’s head office in Johannesburg. This will be your opportunityഀ to engage with prominent representatives of business, governmentഀ and the NGO sector as they tackle the difficult questions andഀ brainstorm the necessary solutions to one of our world’s mostഀ pressing problems. The theme for this year’s Indaba isഀ ‘Biodiversity for Better Business’. We aim to provide delegatesഀ with practical insights into how their business can identify andഀ act on risks and opportunities in the rapidly evolving field ofഀ biodiversity and business.

ഀ The Indaba provides an opportunity for large, medium and smallഀ businesses to take a proactive step towards better understandingഀ the risks and opportunities that biodiversity presents to theirഀ bottom line, and learning about how best to respond to remainഀ competitive in our fast-changing world.

ഀ The National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN) wasഀ established by the EWT, in collaboration with founding partners,ഀ including the Department of Environmental Affairs, Nedbank Limited,ഀ Hatch, De Beers, Transnet, Pam Golding Properties and Pick n Pay.ഀ Woolworths and Eskom have since also joined us as partners.

ഀ The NBBN engages with various business sectors and stakeholders toഀ assist business to better integrate biodiversity into theirഀ business activities and to promote a national biodiversity andഀ business agenda. The NBBN facilitates the development and provisionഀ of information, tools, resources, benchmarks, pilot-studies andഀ strategic support to businesses looking to integrate biodiversityഀ issues into their business. The NBBN also organises events, forums,ഀ training sessions and an annual conference.

The NBBNഀ wishes to thank the sponsors of the Indaba, including theഀ Department of Environmental Affairs, Hatch, De Beers, Eskom andഀ Woolworths.

 

 

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 Forഀ more information, contact  eshop@ewt.org.za

 

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EVENTS

Freshwater, Frogs, Family – Country Club Johannesburgഀ Talk
ഀ Date: 3 October 2017
ഀ Speaker: Dr Jeanne Tarrant

EWTea and Talk, Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
ഀ Easter Eegg owls: Giving a hoot about the conservation of theഀ African Grass Owl in a human-transformed landscape –
ഀ Date: 20 October 2017
ഀ Speaker: Matt Pretorius and Rebo Rachuene

 

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SUPPORTER NEWS
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Mt Vinson –ഀ the Seventh Summit, to save our rhinos

John Black,ഀ Director, Trappers
john@outland.co.za


ഀ What does the highest mountain, on the coldest, most remoteഀ continent have to do with rhino conservation? Let’s begin at theഀ beginning.
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ഀ What started as a casual conversation around the campfire at a Boyഀ Scout training camp in 1998, turned into the “Three Peaksഀ Expedition” to climb the three highest peaks in Africa in a month,ഀ back in 2000. That in turn started what has now been almost 20ഀ years of climbing mountains as frequently as time, money, careerഀ and, later, family allowed.

ഀ Along the way, there have been some hairy moments, some downright frighteningഀ moments, a second attempt at Aconcagua to pull it off, and unrestഀ in Tibet that postponed our Everest plans by a year. Over theഀ years, I have had the privilege to climb all of the other Ssevenഀ Ssummits, and possibly more importantly, a number of “non-seven”,ഀ and to share these experiences with great friends. The last of theഀ seven was Denali back in 2011, with Mt Everest preceding it inഀ 2009. Some of the other peaks included Alpamayo, Ama Dablam,ഀ Lobuche, Quitaraju, and Mt Kenya.

ഀ Almost all of our trips have been non-commercial, private trips.ഀ However, the only way to climb Vinson is via an operator, due toഀ the extreme remoteness and the resultant monopoly on logistics.ഀ These two factors also mean that it is an unjustifiably expensiveഀ trip, but one that I have been determined to do, and to finish whatഀ I started dreaming about in my teens.

ഀ Through very supportive sponsors, saving and personal sacrifice, Iഀ have been able to cover the costs. The trip is paid, flights bookedഀ and my North Face duffels are waiting to be packed. I have had aഀ long relationship with the EWT and rhino conservation, fundraisingഀ for these causes in both my professional and personal capacity. Iഀ intend to continue with this, and will be using the hopefulഀ completion of the Seven Summits as an opportunity to raise fundsഀ for the EWT. 

ഀ In 2011, in my professional capacity, we raised R250,000 for rhinoഀ conservation in the Kruger National Park, and in 2013 my wife and Iഀ raised almost a R100,000 for rhino conservation when I ran the Londonഀ Marathon in a rhino suit. But neither of those efforts compare toഀ what I am attempting later this year.

If myഀ fundraising target of R250,000 is achieved, I will attempt theഀ highest mountain, on the coldest continent, wearing a rhino suit,ഀ similar to the one I wore when I ran the London Marathon to raiseഀ funds. Any donations are welcome and can be made at   https://www.givengain.com/ap/rhinoinantarctica/


Alternatively,ഀ donations can be made directly to the EWT using the referenceഀ RhinoInAntarctica. For more information, please contact me on 082ഀ 412 7614 or john@outland.co.za


Conservation in action with Flight Centre


ഀ Flight Centre Foundation believes that through a hands-on approach,ഀ the organisation can give back to the communities in which itഀ works, sustainably. This foundation gives every Flight Centreഀ employee the opportunity to get involved, though donations andഀ volunteering.
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ഀ The Flight Centre team certainly took a hands-on approach when theyഀ joined the EWT for a day of intensive alien plant clearing in theഀ Modderfontein Reserve on 25 August! Together, we equipped ourselvesഀ with pangas and saws, filled up our water bottles, and took a walkഀ to one of the many bird hides on the reserve. Our mission? To clearഀ as many Syringa trees (Melia azedarach) from the bird hide area asഀ possible. The Syringa is an invasive species that competes with andഀ replaces indigenous species, with potentially serious consequencesഀ for biodiversity.

ഀ The competitive spirit was raised as we split into two groups, andഀ tackled the troublesome trees. After two hours of hard work (andഀ perspiration), the team cleared a substantial numbers of Syringas,ഀ making a lasting impact in the area.

Thank you toഀ Flight Centre for their involvement on the day and for theirഀ support of the EWT.

 

Canopy Tours

ഀ Canopy Tours is a South African adventure tourism company thatഀ spends most of its time at the top of giant trees, or hanging outഀ on the side of mountain cliffs, or ziplining between the two! Weഀ have seven treetop Canopy Tour sites around southern Africa andഀ have been taking people through these previously inaccessibleഀ natural environments for 17 years. All our Canopy Tours have anഀ extremely small footprint and are custom designed around eachഀ particular platform location or habitat. We operate in pristineഀ areas such as national parks, world heritage sites, protected areasഀ and forest reserves, and believe in education through adventure.

ഀ A Canopy Tour consists of a series of elevated platforms that areഀ joined by long zipline slides, offering guests a two-hour adventureഀ through spectacular untouched wilderness areas! Canopy Tours areഀ safe for almost all ages (we recommend 5 to 75) and small groupsഀ are escorted through the canopy level of the forest by at least twoഀ trained guides per group. Our guides are previously unemployedഀ members of the surrounding rural communities who receive theഀ necessary skills training to offer a safe and informative adventureഀ experience for guests. Canopy Tours operate every hour of everyഀ day, and are great fun for corporate groups, nature lovers,ഀ families, and thrill seekers. There is one near you! Visit www.canopytour.co.za forഀ more info.

ഀ Canopy Tours supports the EWT as our business is all about takingഀ people away from their urban life and up into pristine nature areasഀ where they can encounter wild species and the joy of nature from aഀ completely new perspective. We rely on the good work of the EWT toഀ help educate people and conserve these places and the wildlife thatഀ lives there. We hope the Canopy Tour experience we offer, alongsideഀ our affiliation with the EWT, leads more people to become moreഀ responsible about conservation.

Avian Leisure

ഀ Avian Leisure specialises in tailor-made private safaris andഀ birding tours in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia, asഀ well as botany tours, general nature tours and photographic tours.ഀ They cater for small groups wanting self-drive or guided tours.ഀ Their birding tours are run at your desired pace; intensive tripsഀ aim to cover as many habitat types as possible within the givenഀ time frame and you expect 500 bird species in a three week guidedഀ trip. Their tailor-made wildlife safaris take you to the bestഀ bushveld areas in search of the 'Big Five'.


Avian Leisureഀ is a corporate supporter of the EWT, believing that our work alignsഀ closely with what they care about.

Become a member of the EWTഀ and help us to save our heritage:

You can also help us to spread our message and theഀ umbrella of our work by encouraging friends, family and colleaguesഀ to become members.....OPEN MEMBERSHIP FORM or contact Joel Thosago on joelt@ewt.org.za

 

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Physical Address: Building K2, Ardeer Road,ഀ Pinelands Office Park,
ഀ Modderfontein 1609, Gauteng, South Africa,
ഀ Postal Address: Private Bag X 11, Modderfontein 1645, Gauteng,ഀ South Africa
ഀ Tel: +27 (0) 11 372 3600 Fax: +27 (0) 11 608 4682 NPO Number:ഀ 015-502
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