Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do do through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitude toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.
Feb 24, 2015

Major comeback for sea turtles in Nicaragua

Hawksbill sea turtle hatchling. Photo credit: WCS
Hawksbill sea turtle hatchling. Photo credit: WCS

From all of us at the Wildlife Conservation Society, thank you to our GlobalGiving donors for your wonderful support of our marine conservation efforts around the world.

In our latest update from the field, some great news for sea turtles: A WCS team in Nicaragua recently reported a dramatic increase in nesting of critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles including the highest nest counts since a conservation project began there in 2000. The total nest count for hawksbill turtles in the project area in Nicaragua’s Pearl Cays region has increased some 200 percent from 154 in 2000 to 468 in 2014.

Of the areas monitored, poaching rates have decreased by more than 80 percent. Poaching in 2014 was one of the lowest in project history at approximately five percent. Nest success has averaged approximately 75 percent this season, with over 35,000 hatchlings going to sea as of the end of November. Before the project began, a preliminary study of the Pearl Cays showed that almost 100 percent of nests laid were poached and most eggs were removed for human consumption.

WCS established the Hawksbill Conservation Project in 2000 to reduce poaching and create awareness. In 2010, it helped contribute to the establishment of the Pearl Cays Wildlife Refuge, which safeguards nesting, foraging, breeding and migratory areas for sea turtles, while protecting other marine species and important habitat types.

In addition to monitoring nesting success WCS scientists satellite-tagged three nesting females this year. The turtles are currently being tracked as they move northward near the Honduran border. Since 1999, WCS has captured and released nearly 3,000 sea turtles in the Pearl Cays. Staff record the date, size, and location for each sea turtle encounter as part of the tag and release program. This information can help improve the understanding of the species for informed management and development of conservation efforts in the region.

“These recent nest counts show that by working with local communities, we can save sea turtles from extinction.  Communities partnering with WCS are directly involved with safeguarding their own natural resources.  Without their help and commitment, this project would fail, and Nicaragua’s hawksbill turtles would be doomed.”

- Caleb McClennen, WCS Executive Director of Marine Conservation

Adult hawksbill sea turtle. Photo credit: WCS
Adult hawksbill sea turtle. Photo credit: WCS
Jan 20, 2015

Thank you to our GlobalGiving donors!

Elephant on vacated lands
Elephant on vacated lands

Happy New Year from the Wildlife Conservation Society! Thank you to all of our GlobalGiving supporters for your incredible generosity this past year—your contributions have been instrumental to securing healthy habitat for tigers, elephants, and other wildlife in India.

Some promising news from the field: WCS is currently in final land purchase negotiations with the only two families living in a protected area in the Western Ghats mountains of south India. This protected area is home to critical populations of numerous highly threatened endemic species, including the regal lion-tailed macaque, as well as many unique frogs, birds, and plants. It also serves as the only corridor between two major populations of tigers and Asian elephants in south India, making the recovery of this habitat a high priority. We are hugely grateful for the support of our GlobalGiving donors, who provided the primary source of funding for this effort.

WCS is also in exploratory negotiations with three families living in the middle of a second protected area of the Western Ghats. They are the only families living in this protected area, which is important not only for Asian elephants and tigers, but is also home to a major population of dhole (Asiatic wild dogs), a stunning rust-colored dog species of Asia that is now highly endangered. We are still working on securing the funds to purchase these lands, so we very much hope you will be inspired to continue supporting this project in 2015.

We look forward to sharing more news from India with you soon. From all of us at WCS, thank you for your amazing support!

Dholes (Asiatic wild dogs)
Dholes (Asiatic wild dogs)
Oct 21, 2014

Protecting Yankari's elephants

Photo credit: G. Nyanganji/WCS
Photo credit: G. Nyanganji/WCS

Thank you for your amazing support of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s elephant protection efforts in Nigeria’s Yankari Game Reserve.

We are pleased to report that we were able to increase the number of camping patrols last quarter: from July to September, rangers completed 47 camping patrols, covering a total distance of 2,420 kman increase from the previous quarter, when only 32 camping patrols were carried out. As a result of these renewed protection efforts, fourteen poachers were arrested during this period, in addition to nine Fulani herders who were illegally grazing cattle in the reserve. With the strong support of the local magistrate court, 86% of the poachers arrested received jail sentences of at least five months. Furthermore, thanks to efforts by the rangers, zero elephant carcasses were recorded this quarter.

However, significant challenges remain, including a shortage of funds for patrol allowances and field rations. In addition, an increase in crop raiding by elephants this quarter has affected over fifteen communities. As a result elephants are not only at risk from hardened poachers seeking ivory, but also irate farmers seeking revenge. In an effort to minimize this conflict between  elephants and local communities, we continue to monitor movements of two elephants using satellite collars, ensuring that rangers provide constant protection to this herd and react promptly when the elephants leave the confines of the reserve to raid crops.

Despite numerous challenges, WCS is committed to ensuring the survival of Yankari’s elephants, which make up the last viable population left in Nigeria. From all of us at WCS, thank you so much for your support of our work! 

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