Fauna & Flora International (FFI) acts to conserve threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, are based on sound science and take account of human needs.
FFI has been working in Cambodia since 1996. Its Siamese crocodile conservation activities primarily focus on the Cardamom Mountain Landscape. The Cambodian Crocodile Conservation Programme (CCCP) was co-founded in 2000 by FFI, the Government of Cambodia's Forestry Administration and concerned local communities with the explicit aim of saving the Siamese crocodile from extinction in the wild.
In Cambodia, FFI is implementing a multi-faceted project to protect the critically endangered Siamese crocodile through research, captive breeding, community outreach, conservation education, and habitat protection.
FFI has been working alongside government and civil society organisations in the Philippines since the 1990s. One such partnership is tackling the main agents of decline facing three Critically Endangered bleeding-heart pigeon species from Mindoro (Gallicolumba platenae), Negros (G. keayi) and Sulu (G. menagei).
In the Philippines, FFI is implementing a science-based approach to conserve a multitude of endemic and highly threatened species and their habitats.
In 2002, FFI biologists were able to confirm the presence of at least 26 cao vit gibbons in a limestone mountainous forest in Trung Khanh District, Cao Bang Province in Vietnam, on the border with China. Interview data and field surveys suggested that the species has been extirpated everywhere else within its historical range in Vietnam. In 2006, a further three groups were discovered in contiguous forest in China.
A transboundary census organised by FFI in September 2007 brings the current estimate of individuals to about 110 individuals in 18 family groups. This remains the only location in the world where this species is known to exist.
A lack of suitable habitat is the most significant immediate threats to these gibbons. This threat is further compounded by habitat degradation mainly from fuel-wood collection and free grazing livestock. While hunting by local people no longer represents a significant threat, outsiders occasionally make illegal incursions into the area for hunting. No gibbons have been hunted since their discovery in 2002.
The limestone forest has also other important representative habitats and species of the northeastern Vietnam and southern China karst. It includes threatened orchid and conifer species, giant flying squirrels, southern serow, Asiatic black bear, musk deer, silver pheasants and the newly-discovered Nonggang babbler.
A community-based primate conservation project implemented by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) in Vietnam and China with support from Cao Bang Forest Protection Department and Guangxi Forestry Bureau
The project objectives are:
1. Protection of the gibbon population and its habitat
2. Support to local communities to reduce their dependency on forest resources and improve their livelihoods
3. Further understanding of gibbon ecology through scientific research
4. Raising awareness among stakeholders about the cao vit gibbon and the importance of its conservation
5. Rehabilitation of the habitat of the cao vit gibbon
6. International transboundary cooperation for conservation
ASAP Species That We Work On
The Cao Vit Gibbon Nomascus nasutus, also known as the eastern black crested gibbon, is the rarest ape in the world after its closest relative the Hainan gibbon. Its historical distribution lies east of the Red River in Vietnam and southern China.
The last remaining Siamese crocodiles are found in very small scattered populations with few breeding adults. With fewer than five nests found a year, the species is not reproducing fast enough to naturally recover, and is at risk from other issues associated with inbreeding.
Adults and juveniles are at risk from getting entangled in fishing nets, caught on hooks, and swallowing nets left out with tangled fish.
There is significant impact to crocodile habitat via the conversion of riparian forest to agriculture and development of hydroelectric dams in key crocodile breeding areas.
The three species of bleeding-heart pigeons are island endemics that now live in extremely small and severely fragmented populations due to the massive destruction of their preferred lowland forest habitat. Species survival is compounded by the hunting and trade of these prize animals.
What We Do
- Captive Breeding Program for Reintroduction and Reinforcement
The project created Cambodia’s first Siamese captive breeding program for conservation. It currently has four breeding age crocodiles and has reared four juveniles that will be released in 2015/16. This project component is expanding to achieve a goal of releasing >30 two-year old crocodiles each year.
- Creation and Support of Community Protected Crocodile Sanctuaries
The project currently supports 22 community crocodile wardens to protect 4 critically important crocodile breeding and reintroduction sites. This has helped to stop poaching and greatly reduced illegal fishing practices in these areas.
- Release of Captive Bred Crocodiles
The project has released 56 captive bred and head-started (wild laid eggs raised for 1-2 years to avoid high mortality) crocodiles back into fully protected and therefore safe areas in the wild. Through monitoring, FFI has documented that the released crocodiles have adapted well to their release sites.
- Improving management of protected areas
FFI is implementing a capacity enhancement project at national and subnational levels by providing technical assistance to relevant government agencies, local government units, and civil society organisations. This aims to improve protected areas performance by addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss and deforestation, such as habitat destruction (including of critical bleeding-heart pigeon habitat) and undervaluation of natural resources. This project also aims to counter the failures of existing governance mechanisms that are designed to curb these problems and strengthen national and local policies related to biodiversity conservation and forest management.
- Improving law enforcement
An intuitive, simple and new mobile phone application that will be used as an automated data capture tool is being developed to be used alongside the SMART software. This new mobile device, called Landscape and Wildlife Indicators (LAWIN), will assist management authorities to monitor and interpret trends in biodiversity abundance shifts across landscapes and management and disturbance clines across High Conservation Value Areas within protected areas and/or watersheds. This tool incorporates geo-spatial information and automates the data analysis. This way, analyses are done on-site enabling real-time and more responsive environmental law enforcement systems.
Since the discovery of the gibbon population, FFI has been working with local government forestry agencies and local communities to reduce threats to the gibbon population.
The first response to the discovery of the gibbons was to provide some level of immediate protection in the forest. Community patrol groups were established in both Vietnam and China. Initially these were supervised by FFI staff and local government forest protection agencies.
In 2007, the Cao Vit Gibbon Conservation Area was established in Vietnam following biodiversity surveys and stakeholder consultations led by FFI. This protected area covers 1,657 hectares, including the entire gibbon habitat. It is managed by five government staff, who now manage the community patrol group of six local people. In 2009, FFI support led to Guangxi Forestry Bureau establishing an adjoining protected area in China expanding the area of forest protected for the gibbon by another 6,530 hectares.
- Community outreach
Awareness-raising among local communities about the importance of the gibbon and conservation measures remains an important ongoing activity, but involving local stakeholders in conservation activities is absolutely essential. Participatory planning activities with local communities and coordination with other local government partners have thus steered conservation activities from the beginning, including establishing the two protected areas.
- Supporting local livelihoods
Reducing levels of fuelwood extraction has been a main focus of conservation activities, especially in Vietnam where over 500 fuel-efficient stoves have been provided to local households. These cheap and easy to build stoves are estimated to reduce fuelwood use by about 40%. Fuelwood plantations have been also established using a local tree species to provide an alternative source of fuelwood, but time is still required before these trees can be used.
Another key issue has been to control livestock grazing to reduce its impact on both protected area and village forests. Fodder crops and silage have been successfully introduced to villages for cattle feed and livestock interest groups established to encourage self-learning. These groups are now being supported with small grants and micro-credit.
- Ecological research and habitat restoration
Knowledge of the gibbon’s ecology is crucial for improving understanding of its habitat requirements – and thereby for securing its long-term survival. Monthly surveys of vegetation and monitoring gibbon groups have been the research focus for a team led by a gibbon expert from Dali University in China. Restricted habitat availability and quality is understood to be a significant constraint to the long-term conservation of the gibbon. So since 2010 FFI has been supporting pilot habitat restoration activities led by the People, Resources and Conservation Foundation in this challenging limestone landscape.
- Transboundary cooperation
FFI has been promoting cross-border cooperation since 2007 when the first transboundary census was conducted covering the entire area of viable habitat for the gibbon in Vietnam and China. Since then closer links between government partners have been encouraged, which has led to an agreement being signed in March 2011 between government agencies in Cao Bang and Guangxi Provinces for improved information sharing and cooperation on protected area management.
Supporters for this work are:
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- Association of Zoos and Aquariums
- Disney Conservation Fund
- People's Trust for Endangered Species
- Ocean Park Hong Kong Conservation Foundation
- IUCN Save Our Species
- Czech Association for Breeding and Conservation of Crocodilians
- ARCUS Foundation,
- BAT Biodiversity Programme
- Defra Flagship Species Fund
- Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation
- McKnight Foundation
- National Geographic Society Conservation Trust
- Newman's Own Foundation
- Regional Natural Heritage Programme
- SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
- Twycross Zoo
- US Ambassador’s Fund
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
Web & Social Media
Jeremy Holden (featured image)