Investing in endangered species before it’s too late.



Asian Elephant Support/VESSWIC Project

Project Mission: To establish a branch/department for wildlife and conservation medicine and a wildlife ambulance at the veterinary faculty of the Syiah Kuala University (Unsyiah) Banda Aceh. Through this, necessary education and training for veterinary students and veterinarians will be established to develop and sustainably provide veterinary expertise and services needed for wildlife conservation and welfare in Sumatra and other regions in Indonesia.

The purpose of this project is to build capacity for wildlife veterinary education and establish a mobile wildlife emergency service within the veterinary department at Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, to support regional and national conservation needs.  Loss of habitat due to massive deforestation during the past couple of decades has threatened many of Sumatra’s wildlife with extinction. To prevent the extinction of the unique wildlife of Sumatra, which is a crucial part of a functioning ecosystem, various kinds of conservation programs, strategies, and research are needed. Veterinary expertise is important to many conservation programs and strategies conducted by government and non-government institutions and organizations (e.g. wildlife rescues, translocations, fitting GPS collars for research and conflict mitigation, wildlife disease surveillance and prevention, management of wildlife in captive situations for captive breeding, and education programs). Currently there are few veterinarians in Sumatra with wildlife specific interest and knowledge, which often results in insufficient management of programs and activities. 

The establishment of a wildlife and conservation veterinary medicine program at Syiah Kuala University will provide veterinary expertise and services needed to support wildlife conservation in Sumatra and potentially in other islands of Indonesia. The wildlife veterinary program will be comprised of three major programs: teaching, research, and wildlife veterinary services. 


Red Panda Network

Project Mission:  To support a viable and healthy population and distribution of red panda in contiguous habitat and historical range in the PIT Corridor, eastern Nepal, where threats are alleviated by community-based awareness-building, alternative income generation, and sustainable forest management programs.

The Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) Corridor is a hot spot for the red panda and harbors roughly 25% of the total population of red pandas in Nepal.  The Red Panda Network (RPN) has been overseeing a community-based conservation effort in Nepal since 2007. Since then, RPN has identified the major threats to red pandas in the region including habitat loss and degradation, and poaching. There are four main components to this project: community-based monitoring; education and outreach; sustainable livelihood promotion; and a species management plan. Local people were trained as Forest Guardians who conduct monthly monitoring. Awareness-building workshops were held for local stakeholders, women’s groups, herders, and students. Posters, radio stations and information boards help educate locals about conservation concerns and solutions. Locals will also be supported in cultivating high-value medicinal plants, alternative energy development, and forest-based micro-entrepreneurship. Palatable plant species will be planted and degraded water resources will be restored in red panda habitat. All these projects will continue to help ensure a viable and healthy population of red panda in the eastern Himalayan broad leaf forests.


Turtle Survival Alliance

Project Mission: Committed toward conserving the imperiled Indian Turtle fauna in five turtle priority areas (TPAs)

The project will integrate alternate livelihoods for local communities in an ongoing conservation strategy for freshwater turtles of the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL), in the state of Uttar Pradesh along India and Nepal border. TAL has been recognized as one of the top 200 Global Biodiversity Hotspots in need of conservation (WWF, 2000). Additionally, the area supports more than 50% of India’s freshwater turtle species, the main target species being the Crowned River Turtle, (Hardella thurjii).  A newly built community center will be providing infrastructure toward sustaining and expanding community programs. In tandem, baseline abundances of and characteristic threats to the H thurjii and other aquatic turtle species will be obtained. Reproductive ecology of the H thurjii will be investigated to develop a large-scale head-starting program to boost dwindling population on Sarju River.  Rescue operations for turtles, gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica) and gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) will be continued. Implementation of riverine biodiversity conservation curriculum in 50 selected schools along the project site will be done.  Advocating the use of hoop traps with turtle friendly modifications to local fishermen would enable mitigation of threats.


In Situ Conservation and Management of Highly Endangered Endemic Tree Snails of French Polynesia

Project Mission: To preserve and enhance the survival prospects of all surviving endemic tree snail species of the family Partulidae within their natural range in French Polynesia, and to re-establish, where feasible, the 11 species that currently exist only in the international breeding program.

The Partulid Global Species Management Programme’s mission is to preserve and enhance the survival prospects of all endemic tree snail species of the family Partulidae within their natural range of French Polynesia facing extinction after the introduction of the carnivorous Rosey wolfsnail  including the extinct in the wild Tahitian species Partula nodosa.  The intent is to reintroduce the several Partula SSP collection populations currently in the international breeding program in which Woodland Park Zoo participates into secure reserves, or protected areas, on two of the islands of origin for those species.

2016 saw the first of the anticipated releases of Partula from the breeding program back into their host range. The release took place at two locations on Tahiti, Papehue Valley and Te Faaiti Valley, and consisted of 500 individuals of three species. The release was an experiment, limited in scope, with the aim of giving preliminary data and a comparison between the two release strategies (secure reserve [Te Faaiti] and tree release [Papehue]). Initial data in Papehue Valley was very promising as mortality was less than 20%;  most of the adults dispersed into the habitat and a number of young born in situ were recorded and were seen growing. The reserve was less encouraging as mortality was high due to hot, dry conditions, unavoidable as tree shade was limited to avoid falling trees crushing the barrier. Access was totally blocked during rain. 

2016 will be a pivotal year in the re-establishment program as a number of much wider scale Partula releases are planned on at least two, and hopefully, three of their islands of origin. This will include large scale Partula reintroductions from the SSP Partula institutions.


Population Monitoring of Komodo Dragons and Capacity Building in Komodo National Park

Project Mission: To collect demographic information on Komodo dragons and its ungulate prey populations along northern Flores coastal Monsoon forest and savannah habitats to address conservation and management priorities.

The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) is restricted to five islands in the Lesser Sundas region of eastern Indonesia. Four island populations are located within Komodo National Park, where the species is fairly well protected. Clearing of coastal tropical deciduous Monsoon forest, arson and poaching of prey species, such as Timor deer are instead the main threats influencing viability of fragmented populations found on the island of Flores, outside the boundaries of Komodo National Park. In northern Flores, Komodo dragons are found along a patch of coastal Monsoon forest and savanna which include the three contiguous nature reserves of Riung, Tujuh belas pulau and Wolo Tadho. Basic information on population density, range and status of main prey species is unknown and of paramount importance to devise wildlife monitoring and conservation plans. The aim of the Komodo dragon conservation program is to collect demographic information on extant Komodo dragon and their ungulate prey populations in northern Flores by means of camera trapping methodology and fecal pellet counts on transect plots. The project will be conducted in collaboration with the eastern Lesser Sunda central bureau for conservation of nature resources (BBKSDA). Training sessions designed specifically for BBKSDA rangers will help creating local expertise in wildlife monitoring methodology and therefore contribute to the long-term protection of extant Komodo dragon population on Flores.


Visayan Warty Pig Conservation Programme

Nowhere in the Philippines is environmental degradation quite so acute, and the need for immediate conservation action quite so pressing, as in the West Visayas or Negros Faunal Region. This area is one of the most important centers of endemicity in the country but has suffered a disproportionate extent of denudation (wearing away of the earth’s surface resulting in a reduction of elevation).  For these reasons, the Visayan warty pig is one of the most threatened species in the region. The importance of the Philippines as a center of endemicity for wild pigs is almost entirely unknown to the relevant authorities, let alone the general public, and local attitudes to these animals are generally negative owing to occasional damage caused to crops planted in or close to forested areas. The Visayan Warty Pig Conservation Programme’s mission is to contribute to the protection and conservation of Visayan warty pigs and their habitats through increased effectiveness of protective measures within existing reserves and supporting conservation initiatives such as captive-breeding, personnel training, and public education programs to enhance the survival aspects and better understanding of the species at the local level.


Wildlife SOS Drones for Bears Project

Project Mission:  To utilize drone technology to successfully map sloth bear habitat in detail.  Then utilize the data to: 1) track habitat changes in subsequent years, 2) use the detailed maps for the ongoing sloth bear ecology studies, and 3) use the information to help guide future conservation efforts for bears in the area.

Partnering with Shadowview and the AZA Bear TAG, Wildlife SOS will be utilizing drone technology for the purpose of sloth bear conservation by mapping sloth bear habitat. After years of focusing on it, Wildlife SOS was effective at ending the “dancing bear” problem in India. This was an essential first step for protecting sloth bears. Now that this issue is resolved, more needs to be done to identify and protect sloth bear habitat. Wildlife SOS is already working to protect key land areas for sloth bears in India. This drone project will further assist with providing the critical data that is urgent to gain these protections. There is still surprisingly little known about sloth bear ecology as most research dollars go toward more familiar animals such as tigers, elephants and rhinos. To gain a better understanding of sloth bear ecology within a unique ecosystem, the project will map the Sanapur Community Reserve Forest in the north eastern part of the state of Karnataka. Mapping this habitat will enable Wildlife SOS to gather more knowledge about this vulnerable species and develop effective conservation methods.


Steller's Sea Eagle Breeding Program

Project Mission:  The core mission is to maintain the annual monitoring of the population within the Kava-Chelomdze segment of the Magadan State Reserve.  When human and financial resources are available we expand that to include surrounding areas, and to mount specific research and conservation initiatives.  We publish in peer-reviewed literature the results of our work, and in more popular outlets (so far mostly in Russian).

Steller’s sea eagle is a large sea eagle classed as vulnerable globally. Its breeding distribution is limited to a narrow coastal strip in the Russian Far East. Many migrate to wintering grounds in Hokkaido. Within the framework of long-term monitoring of the population in the Magadan State Reserve, the project conducts research to better understand eagle ecology, monitor its status within the region, suggest its status across its range, and promote its conservation.

This project was initiated in 1989 and is the longest running continuous study of a population of Steller’s sea eagles in the world. The data from this project is the de facto baseline information on breeding success and survival for the whole population. Because Steller’s sea eagles are long-lived (probably living up to 30 years or more), it is important that long-term monitoring and research is conducted because it spans eagle generations and enables researchers to understand important demographic parameters such as survival and turnover of breeders.


Cat Walk – Citizen Action for Tigers

Project Mission: The ultimate mission of CAT is to protect and recover the tiger population in Taman Negara National Park by citizen conservation around the border of the park and adjacent wildlife corridors while the authorities focus their patrol effort interior of the park. 

Since the forest in Taman Negara is intact and protected from large-scale exploitation, once tigers are protected from poaching, their natural resilience will lead to a rebound in the tiger population in the park. Securing wildlife corridors will allow dispersal between the park and adjacent forest reserves. 

At the moment CAT is operational at the most threatened part of the park (western Taman Negara) and the most important wildlife corridor, Yu River Wildlife Corridor. 

Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) is one of MYCAT’s (Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers) solutions to curb the population decline and to nurture an action-oriented sense of stewardship among the Malaysian public. With the last 300 left in the wild, the Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) is on the verge of extinction. They will, however, recover if poaching is effectively suppressed and the Malaysian public takes action toward saving tigers in this decade. By providing an avenue for the public to get involved, this project enables Malaysians and global citizens to share the responsibility of shaping the future of the tiger.

CAT involves citizen conservationists putting more “boots on the ground” and helping to save wildlife by deactivating snares. They also support law enforcement by becoming the “eyes and ears” of the authorities who experience a chronic shortage of manpower. The project site, the Yu River Wildlife Corridor, is the last forest linkage connecting the two largest tiger landscapes in Malaysia - Taman Negara National Park, and the Main Range.

The CAT program deters poaching by the simple presence of volunteers at poaching hotspots and the Taman Negara border, especially on weekends and public holidays when enforcement staff are not on duty. While carrying out recreational activities or border maintenance work, volunteers are also on the lookout for snares and traps and deactivate them, thus saving the lives of potential snare victims. In addition to the surveillance walks, volunteers record signs of large mammals encountered, especially that of the tiger and sambar deer.

Since 2010, 672 CAT Walkers from 28 countries have patrolled 335,000 acres of rainforest, and deactivated 134 snares and traps. Even when all other possible signs of poaching and encroachment (e.g. illegal camp sites, parked motor bikes, illegal logging) are considered, there are hardly any signs of threat being reported since mid-2014.

More details including registration information, CAT manuals, routes, and the CAT calendar can be found on the MYCAT website www.citizenactionfortigers.my.

The ultimate goal of this project is to recover the tiger population in Taman Negara and secure important wildlife corridors by citizens with a greater conservation awareness and willingness to be involved by the public.


Hornbill Research Foundation & Nest Adoption Program

Project Mission: Hornbills are the builders of rain forests, consuming a variety of fruit and then dispersing the seeds throughout the forest. Because of the important ecological niche they occupy, hornbills are considered a keystone species. As forests are cleared for agricultural uses and illegal logging, these magnificent birds are increasingly under threat. Woodland Park Zoo has had a long relationship with Dr. Pilai Poonswad, a hornbill researcher in Thailand who founded the Hornbill Research Foundation (HRF). A Rolex and Chevron Conservation Award winner for her conservation work, Dr. Poonswad has established the Budo Hornbill Conservation and Education Center as a focal point of HRF’s work.

The center gathers researchers, teachers, students and others interested in order to study the needs of the birds and their habitat, guide educators with curriculum on how to teach about hornbill and forest ecology, and teach students about the actions they can take to save hornbills and their habitat. The program also instills local awareness of the economic value of hornbills by employing local villagers as field assistants, part-time educators and guides, including monitoring a stable population of hornbills by minimizing any habitat disturbance and protecting nest cavities and food resources.

Partners Combine Efforts to Create New Program

In 2011, Woodland Park Zoo Partners for Wildlife converged on the Seattle area for a conservation summit, leading to a unique partnership between HRF and Hutan Asian Elephant Conservation. Currently, eight hornbill species occur in Borneo, and all of these are still found in the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain in Sabah, Malaysia. The status and trends of these hornbill populations are largely unknown, however due to rapid landscape changes such as habitat degradation and fragmentation caused by timber extraction, forest conversion to agriculture, human penetration and other destructive activities, the assumption is there may be recent and/or drastic population declines. A rapid assessment of the habitat and hornbill populations was performed by members of the Thailand Hornbill Project in 2012, and it was determined that Hutan should institute conservation measures to protect and/or increase these populations. A complete proposal for a Hutan Hornbill program was proposed in 2013, based on this collaborative work and exchange of knowledge and expertise.