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.
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! 

Oct 15, 2014

Sea Turtle Monitoring at Glover's Reef

Green turtle with satellite tag.
Green turtle with satellite tag.

Hello, WCS Supporters! A quick update on the Wildlife Conservation Society’s sea turtle conservation efforts at Glover’s Reef:

Since 2007, WCS has partnered with the Belize Fisheries Department to conduct annual surveys as part of a long-term sea turtle monitoring program, with the aim of improving sea turtle conservation and management efforts in Belize. Results from the monitoring program are used by decision makers to better understand the status and threats to the hawksbill, green, and loggerhead sea turtles in Belize and to make informed decisions regarding their conservation and management needs.

This year’s survey, carried out from the Glover’s Reef Research Station, was focused on studying the long-range movement of marine turtles at Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve. The surveys were successfully completed over the course of a week in May, thanks to the hard work of a dedicated team of WCS conservationists, volunteers, and Belize Fisheries Department Staff. One green and three hawksbill sea turtles were captured for satellite tagging. Each turtle was also measured, weighed, tagged, and tissue samples were collected for genetic analysis.

We’re excited to report that the most extensive traveler of the four, a green turtle named Turtlesam, has covered the waters off Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama Canal, and Colombia—in the first two months alone! Moving forward, we will continue to keep a close eye on these four turtles, which will allow us to better understand the long-range movements of these species, and help support their conservation.

We invite you to follow Turtlesam and the three other tagged sea turtles (currently still hanging out around Glover’s Reef) at the following link:

seaturtle.org - WCS Belize Sea Turtles

With your help, the Glover’s Reef Research Station will continue to support critical research on sea turtles and many other marine species. From all of us at WCS, thank you so much for your interest and support!

Photo credit: Kenneth Gale/WCS

Jul 23, 2014

WCS Helps Safeguard Belize's Barrier Reef With Conservation Drones

Deploying a conservation drone
Deploying a conservation drone

Thank you for your amazing support of the Wildlife Conservation Society's efforts to save our oceans! Some great conservation news from Belize:

Seeking to gain a high-tech edge over illegal fishers, the Government of Belize will use “eyes in the sky” to enforce fishing regulations in the biodiverse Glover’s Reef Marine Reserve and other reef systems in what is the first use of conservation drones to monitor marine protected areas.

With technical assistance from WCS, the Belize Fisheries Department initiated a new monitoring program using unmanned aerial vehicles (i.e. conservation drones) to curtail unsustainable levels of illegal fishing. Besides coastal development, unregulated and unreported fishing are some of the largest threats to Belize’s fishing industry.

Conservation drones also are being used for wildlife monitoring and for support in the enforcement of terrestrial protected areas. The unmanned aerial vehicles can fly autonomously for over an hour at a time with a range of more than 50 kilometers, and are capable of taking high-resolution photographs and video.

Program participants from WCS, the Belize Fisheries Department, and Conservation Drones.org fully implemented the drone program in early June, following testing that began last July. The drones will enable government officials to remotely locate fishing vessels illegally operating in marine protected areas or in areas with seasonal closures. Once located, patrol vessels can conduct seagoing searches more efficiently.

Drones will also allow government officials to monitor for illegal activities in coastal areas, which are often hidden from view by mangrove forests. Fishers have been known to hide illegal conch catches in these coastal forests.

“This exciting new enforcement tool will help the government and local communities protect their most valuable assets—the fisheries and coral reefs of Belize’s coastal waters,” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Executive Director of WCS Marine Conservation. “The world’s oceans are in dire need of low cost innovations for improving the cost efficiency and effectiveness of enforcement efforts.  This represents an exciting pilot program for Belize, the wider Caribbean, and nearshore marine parks and fisheries around the world.”

Photo credit: Julio Maaz/WCS

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