Wild Earth Allies team members collaborating on marine surveys in Cambodia.
As we begin a new decade, we feel optimistic about the progress we are making and the impact we are delivering with talented partners around the world. Much of our work does require a decade lens, rather than a single year one, so here are a few highlights worth celebrating as we usher in 2020:
Mountain gorilla population numbers are growing: New census figures reveal mountain gorilla numbers have grown further, reaching 1,063. This data, from a census of the Bwindi-Sarambwe ecosystem (Uganda and DRC) combined with an earlier Virungas census (Rwanda, Uganda and DRC) signals continued population growth for this endangered great ape.
Mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park spotted during a recent Wild Earth Allies field visit to Rwanda.
Primate Expertise recognized for their conservation leadership: Dr. Augustin K. Basabose and his Primate Expertise team were recently awarded a Certificate of Ecological Merit from Kahuzi-Biega National Park, DRC. They were recognized in a ceremony that was part of the park’s 49th anniversary celebration for their work researching and protecting the park’s biodiversity, including Grauer’s gorillas. A richly deserved honor!
At left, Dr. Augustin K. Basabose receives the Certificate of Ecological Merit from Kahuzi-Biega National Park, DRC. At right, members of Primate Expertise with their recent award.
Forest protection deepens: UN Climate talks wrapped up in Madrid in December, and while they failed to deliver a major agreement there is still cause for optimism. Dozens of countries are exhibiting leadership and proceeding without a formal agreement and the volume of transactions in voluntary carbon markets by private sector companies hit a seven-year high in 2018, according to a recent report by our colleagues at Forest Trends. Change is happening.
Meanwhile in Belize, our count has reached over 1,200 tree species! And we expect this number to grow as cataloguing continues for the first comprehensive print and digital field guide. This will be an essential tool for taking action to protect vital forests.
At left, the Bald Hills landscape as seen in Belize. At right, a howler monkey sits in a quamwood tree.
In Cambodia, a new species is discovered: Our Program Coordinator and talented biologist Neang Thy helped discover a new species of skink in Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest! The international research team of which he was a part named the skink Sphenomorphus preylangensis in honor of this special forest.
Our team has strengthened protection of Prey Lang Forest with increased patrols and construction of a new ranger station. Now rangers are better-rested and their response times are shortened, benefitting Asian elephants and at least 55 other threatened species that make their home in the forest. And, our first film Uncle Elephant is raising awareness about this critically important landscape and our collaborative protection efforts.
At left, Wild Earth Allies Cambodia team member Neang Thy. At right, the new species of skink discovered in Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest.
In Central America, a scientific breakthrough: Our Salvadoran partner ProCosta is gathering new data via GPS-satellite transmitters that will remedy gaps in the scientific community’s understanding of where marine turtles spend their early years and reveal priority locations for protection. The next gathering of marine turtle experts is in early 2020 in Colombia, and we are eager to share what we are learning with others in order to accelerate global protection efforts.
At left, ProCosta team members with hawksbill turtles equipped with transmitters prior to their release. At right, tracking imagery showing locations of the turtles in the eastern Pacific.
This is just a sampling of the collaborative work we celebrated in 2019, which fuels our optimism for the new year. Here’s to a positive 2020 protecting the planet together!