Establishing a stakeholder participation-based gharial conservation programme in Katernia

The gharial is a freshwater crocodile, endemic to the Indian subcontinent. Girwa river in Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary has the second-largest breeding gharial population, which has been isolated to a 20 km stretch since 1976 due to damming (Girijapuri barrage). The population is threatened by the loss of nesting habitat and low juvenile recruitments. A channel shift in 2010 diverted the main water flow from Girwa and initiated rapid vegetation succession on sandy substrates. The result was reduced gharial nesting area and nest numbers, increased egg and hatchling mortality (Vashistha et al. 2021a). We successfully increased the nest number and hatching success by artificially constructing sandbanks in 2020 (Vashistha et al. 2021b). Our focus is on extending protection and identifying new habitat areas so that new nesting site options are explored. It will include stakeholder involvement, surveying the river downstream of the barrage, and ensuring higher survival of hatchlings by captive holding during floods. We primarily use boat surveys to collect data. We expect to maintain and further increase nesting efforts in the resident gharial population, increase hatchling survival and recruitment. Artificial sandbank construction is a resource-efficient in situ restoration method, however, we aim not to implement it annually, but provide additional protected habitat to help gharials explore and breed naturally.

Conservation of Critically Endangered Bengal florican in Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve, Nepal

The Bengal florican is one of the rarest bustard species and is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Its estimated population is less than 100 individuals in Nepal. It is highly threatened due to the high dependency of the local people on its habitat. Annually, the locals are permitted in the reserve for resource utilization, where they extensively collect grass for thatching roofs and ignite fire on the grassland for new germination. Grasslands are the prime habitat of the Bengal florican. The breeding ecology of the Bengal florican is also not known. In the non-breeding season, this bird moves towards the shorter grasslands and paddy fields outside the reserve, where it is exposed to a number of threats. This study aims to map the hotspot area where the people extensively use the grassland habitat of the Bengal florican, and prepare the hotspot map with Landsat imagery. The hotspot map will be used by the reserve as a protocol to monitor resource utilization. A questionnaire survey will be carried out among the local people living in the buffer zone. Focal group discussions will also be carried out with the stakeholders. Six students will be trained as volunteers to monitor the movement of species over the long term. Other locals will be trained with the aim of decreasing their dependency on the grassland. Conservation materials will be produced in the form of posters, vouchers, books, and audiovisual form.

A community-based recovery programme for the most threatened endemic plants in Egypt

Endemic plants are a national and international treasure trove of science and socio-economic issues. Although Egypt harbours about 50 species of endemic plants, the unstudied impacts of human activities on these plants continue to grow. Thus, there are large gaps in the information needed to determine conservation priorities for endemic plants in Egypt. Lack of knowledge and inaction will inevitably lead to the deterioration in the quality of species and habitats to a degree unknown to decision-makers and may lead to species extinctions. Among the 50 endemic species, the conservation status of only eight species located in the St. Catherine Protected Area (SCPA) has been assessed in previous projects. Four of them were listed by the IUCN as Critically Endangered and the other four as Endangered. With a very small geographic and population size, and evidence of declining numbers of sub-populations and habitat quality, critical recommendations for conducting restoration activities have become inevitable. In this project, focused conservation recovery actions based on new information for eight globally threatened endemic plant species in SCPA are agreed upon and implemented with support from local communities and other key stakeholders, as part of a new national in situ and ex situ conservation strategy and action for Egypt’s endemic plants.

Team leader Karim Omar explains more in the below video:

Implementing a community-based conservation management zone to protect the red siskin in Guyana

Our project will leverage grassroots support to provide a framework for the protection of the Endangered red siskin through the development of an innovative community-based conservation management zone in southern Guyana. Drawing on our detailed knowledge of the species accrued over years of surveys, we will engage six indigenous communities to develop a boundary for the zone; work with those communities to create rules to discourage the trapping of siskins and destruction of their habitat and have community rangers monitor the zone. This project will complement our ongoing survey and education work in the region, much of which is focused on red siskins, and will serve as a focal point for international birdwatchers and ecotourists who support our local economies. Establishing a unit with tangible boundaries and managed entirely by its indigenous residents will lead to effective deterrence of external threats and a subsequent increase in this endemic red siskin population. It will also provide an ideal site for future projects including habitat restoration for red siskins and community conservation of other threatened wildlife. The construction of two rooms to act as accommodation for scientists and tourists will provide the project with a sustainable source of income to allow for the continued monitoring of the zone after the project funding has finished.