WWF to help Starbucks build better stores for the planet

WWF to help Starbucks build better stores for the planet

Imagine a future in which buildings are designed specifically to help the planet become a healthier place for all of us to live. That’s the vision WWF will help Starbucks achieve through the company’s new “Greener Stores” plan.

Announced last week at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, Starbucks has committed to design, build and operate 10,000 Greener Stores globally by 2025. But before Starbucks customers can step into a Greener Store there’s some work to be done—and that’s where WWF is getting involved.

Over the next year, WWF will work closely with Starbucks and a team of experts from Green Business Certification, Inc.—an organization that independently certifies environmentally friendly buildings—to develop a plan that not only sets a new standard for sustainable practices in stores, but also ensures new Starbucks stores will be built and operated in a way that significantly reduces environmental impacts.

Collectively our partnership will develop a plan that protects the future health of our natural resources and provides an open-sourced road map to the entire retail industry to make similar advancements—a win-win for both business and nature.

“When companies step up and demonstrate leadership, other businesses often follow with commitments of their own, driving further positive impacts,” said Erin Simon, director, research and development, WWF.

As market demand for food increases, so too does the impact on natural resources and important wildlife habitat. WWF recognizes the enormous potential to improve how we produce food and other products—all while creating opportunities for business.

“We know that designing and building green stores is not only responsible, it is cost effective as well,” said Kevin Johnson, president and CEO of Starbucks. “The energy and passion of our green apron partners has inspired us to find ways to operate a greener store that will generate even greater cost savings while reducing impact.” 

Learn more about WWF’s work to transform business.



Published September 20, 2018 at 05:00AM

In central Sumatra, the Talang Mamak people work to build a sustainable honey business and protect precious forests

In central Sumatra, the Talang Mamak people work to build a sustainable honey business and protect precious forests

Around 10pm one night in October 2017, in the rain forests of central Sumatra, Feri grabs a hammer, loops it over his shoulder, and scales a tree so massive it makes him look the size of a squirrel. The ladder he’s using is a chain of bamboo poles lashed to wooden pegs. Flashlights from the ground cocoon his figure in light as he reaches the uppermost pole, whacks a new peg into the trunk, and waits for another climber to carry up the next length of bamboo.

The tree, in Feri’s language, is a sialang, meaning “big tree with honey.” He and three other climbers—who belong to a community of indigenous Talang Mamak people—have been building the ladder for hours. Once it reaches the bees’ nests hanging from the sialang’s branches, they’ll use a smoking torch to drive out any bees.

The Talang Mamak have been harvesting honey and a host of other natural products from these forests, located in a region known as Thirty Hills, for generations. But they just began collaborating with a PT Alam Bukit 30 (ABT), a new business aiming to help them improve their production and profits--while also keeping the trees standing.

The company was launched in 2015 by WWF-Indonesia, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and The Orangutan Project to protect a large forest concession of land in Thirty Hills. A pulp and paper company had been trying to acquire and clear the concession for plantations, but ABT won the license to it as an “ecosystem restoration concession.” Now, the company is working with local communities there to create a sustainable business plan to create revenue from the intact forest, from everything from sialang honey and rubber to rugs, baskets, and other handicrafts made from rattan and bamboo.

Some of those communities, like Feri’s, live inside ABT’s concession. While they don’t legally own their land, they have deep roots in Thirty Hills. “We believe this forest is ancient, and that it is a family member of the Talang Mamak,” says Fahmi, the head of Feri’s village. ABT wants the indigenous communities to stay in the concession and prosper from its sustainable production model.

Other settlements, like the village of Suo Suo, lie just outside the concession’s boundaries. “We were already making these products before,” says Adnan, a 69-year-old Suo Suo resident, sitting cross-legged in one of the village houses as she works a new strand of bamboo into a woven basket. “But ABT can help us sell them to bigger markets so we can make more income.”

Eventually, the local communities partnering with the company will be invited to become shareholders in it--an uncommon move for a company in Sumatra. “These communities are used to being marginalized,” says Jan Vertefeuille, who leads wildlife conservation advocacy for WWF-US and helped realize the creation of the ABT concession. “Usually, if a pulp and paper or rubber or palm oil comes in, the local communities can’t tell them to leave because they don’t have land tenure.”

Not all of the villages in Thirty Hills are convinced yet that ABT is a company they can trust. But Anto, who lives in Feri’s village, says most of the people there have decided to give the partnership with the company a try.

“We initially rejected ABT because we weren’t aware of what it was and how it was supposed to help local people,” he says. “But now, 85% of the village supports it. We need a change, a good change. We need to improve our livelihoods. Having a partnership with ABT can help us have a better life.”



Published September 20, 2018 at 05:00AM

How to standup paddle board—and help wildlife at the same time

How to standup paddle board—and help wildlife at the same time

Standup paddle boarding promises a unique and harmonious way to explore our planets rivers, lakes, oceans, and more. And while the sport may intimidate first timers, it becomes far less daunting with a few quick tips and tricks in mind.

Former professional standup paddle boarder Anthony Vela offers some insight to get newbies started.

The best part? Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can use your new standup paddle skills to fundraise for the wildlife and wild places that you love. Enjoy a day on the water with other paddlers—beginners, pros, and everyone in between—at WWF’s Panda Paddle, sponsored by Target, on Oct. 20 at Bonita Cove in San Diego.

Take a look!

1. Take a lesson
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth highlighting again. A certified instructor can offer you simple instructions that will make your first time on a standup paddle board successful—and more fun. Many accredited businesses that rent out the equipment you need to get started also offer lessons; the key is to confirm that the instructor went through a training and certification process before heading out on the water.

2. Use the right equipment
One of the reasons standup paddle boarding is such a fast-growing sport is that anyone can do it, anywhere there is water. Just remember that the equipment is not one-size-fits-all. Boards and paddles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and you need to choose the right ones. Think of it like riding a bike—an adult would struggle to ride a child’s bike, and vice versa. Wider boards provide stability and work well for beginners, while narrower boards require precise balance and move faster. A certified instructor from an accredited business can match you with the right equipment.

Here’s a tip for SUP success

Getting started on the board starts with using the right equipment.

Posted by World Wildlife Fund on Friday, September 14, 2018
 

3. Learn in flat water
The easiest place to paddle is in calm, flat water. Lakes, bays, and harbors are best because there are no waves, currents, or other factors that make the water choppy. Mornings are usually the best time to paddle because there’s typically less wind. You will have much more fun in water that looks like a sheet of glass—nice and smooth. As you improve your paddling skills, waves, wind, and even currents in rivers can add excitement. 

4. Have fun
Lastly, keep in mind that it is scientifically proven that you have 80% more balance when you are smiling. (Okay, maybe we made that part up.) But it is true that you don’t need to be an expert standup paddle boarder to have a great time on the water. Falling off and getting back up again is A-Okay and all part of the fun!

5. Paddle for wildlife
There’s no better time to practice standup paddling than at WWF’s Panda Paddle! Panda Paddle blends a world-class standup paddle boarding competition with a world-changing cause: protecting the natural world. Whether you’re just starting out or already an expert paddler, Panda Paddle is a great way to hone your skills while protecting and preserving nature.

Join us Saturday, Oct. 20, at Bonita Cove in San Diego for WWF’s Panda Paddle!



Published September 20, 2018 at 05:00AM

In Mozambique, banning fishing leads to a bigger catch

In Mozambique, banning fishing leads to a bigger catch

It’s still early in the morning as our small boat speeds across a sea of brilliantly blue water. Bouts of pounding rain have kept us on shore in the city of Angoche for days, but with clearer clear skies and calmer seas, our small group—a team of researchers and conservationists from WWF and CARE—can finally make its way to Pulizica, a small fishing community in Mozambique’s Primeiras e Segundas archipelago.

Pulizica is home to the newest fish sanctuary established by the WWF-CARE Alliance, a global partnership to address the root causes of poverty and environmental degradation, and today we’re seeing how well the protected area is recovering declining fish stocks in the region. As one of three community-governed, no-take fishing zones in the area, the Pulizica sanctuary is part of larger efforts by the Alliance to improve local livelihoods by helping communities better manage their natural resources.

Spanning 4,020 square miles, Premeiras e Segundas is a coastal marine reserve comprised of 10 barrier islands, mangrove forests, coastal estuaries, coral reef complexes, and seagrass beds—all of which support an astonishing array of species. Mozambique’s largest concentration of endangered green, hawksbill, and olive ridley turtles swim in these waters, alongside everything from tropical fish to dugongs.

And the 340,000 people who live in the region are intimately tied to the land and sea as well; about two-thirds of households depend on the archipelago’s diverse fisheries for food and income.

Unfortunately, once plentiful fish stocks in Premeiras e Segundas have declined rapidly in the last decade, largely due to overfishing and poorly managed resources. Coastal communities are now plagued by increasingly unreliable sources of income and chronic food insecurity, putting already strained marine ecosystems under even more pressure.

The no-fishing paradox

The idea of not fishing to catch more fish seems contradictory. But when done right, no-take zones—areas in which people cannot fish—can help recover ocean life. Such sanctuaries protect fragile reefs and prevent fishers from hauling in the wrong species of fish or fish that are too young, giving fisheries the chance to repopulate and grow.

And it works. In Pulizica, the abundance and size of fish in the no-take zone greatly increased, and the diversity of species tripled.

Local fishers support the sanctuaries, too. At least 10 boats sit just outside the zone as we pass by, waiting for the falling tide to bring fish swimming into their nets, which was once an unthinkable occurrence.

We stop to chat with the community monitors who ensure that no one fishes illegally. One says he spotted dolphins in the estuary for the first time in years—a sign that recovering fish stocks are again abundant enough to attract larger predators.

These conversations are good reminders that community-protected, no-take zones aren’t just effective conservation tools; they’re also learning tools that help people understand that better ecosystem management can improve their lives, and that their actions make a difference.

Word about the success of fish sanctuaries has spread along the coastline, and WWF and CARE are now collaborating with the Mozambican government and local communities to enforce no-take zones in the coral reef ringing the Primeiras e Segundas islands. With the help of fishers who have seen these sanctuaries succeed, we’re showing that choosing not to fish—and turning to farming or other alternatives for income instead—can benefit both people and wildlife. Their voices and actions can drive change and ensure the survival of this unique and vital place.



Published September 11, 2018 at 05:00AM

Musician Tristan Prettyman to headline at Panda Paddle

Musician Tristan Prettyman to headline at Panda Paddle

Local San Diego singer-songwriter, Tristan Prettyman, has joined forces with WWF to perform at their upcoming fundraiser Panda Paddle at Bonita Cove, San Diego on Oct. 20, 2018.  

Panda Paddle, WWF’s first-ever athletic fundraising event, blends a world-class stand-up paddleboard competition with a world-changing cause—protecting the natural world and all it gives us.  

When describing her passion for nature and desire to support WWF, Tristan quotes environmentalist John Muir: ‘“The clearest way into the Universe is through the forest wilderness,’ says Muir. For me, any excuse to get outside in nature is a good enough reason for me. I am honored and extremely excited to join forces with WWF for the upcoming Panda Paddle in my hometown of San Diego. It's going to be great day, spent outside in the So-Cal sunshine. I cannot wait!  Please come out and join us!”  

Want to see Tristan perform? Be the paddler nature needs by signing up for Panda Paddle. Not able to paddle? That’s okay! The performance is open to all residents who come out in support of WWF.  Tristan’s performance is scheduled to occur after the paddle boarding races are complete in the afternoon on Oct. 20 at Bonita Cove in San Diego.  

Join us at Panda Paddle!

Panda Paddle blends a world-class stand-up paddleboard competition with a world-changing cause: keep nature in balance for people and wildlife.

Sign up today


Published September 03, 2018 at 05:00AM

The next Dust Bowl? Great Plains grassland loss slows overall, but rises in South Dakota

The next Dust Bowl? Great Plains grassland loss slows overall, but rises in South Dakota

In the mid-to-late 1930s, the Great Plains and its inhabitants were plagued with massive waves of dust and sand that blotted out the sun, destroyed crops and livestock, covered homes, and made life nearly impossible for a population already struggling to survive in the era of the Great Depression. As shallow-rooted crops replaced the grasslands of this arid region, “black blizzards” of sediment arose, blanketing everything in their path for nearly 10 years.

Since then, we've learned a lot about what it takes to live in this expansive landscape. We now understand that native grassland plants have incredibly deep roots that hold soil in place, help to store water, and filter the air. They are specially adapted to hold this habitat together in ways that most crops cannot. And though immensely resilient, grasslands also require a delicate balance of grazing that mimics the behavior of native animals such as bison, an understanding of soil, and the ability to read and adapt to changing weather.

The Dust Bowl is held up as one of those historical events that are so tragic in their scope that we use them as an example of mistakes we should never repeat. Unfortunately, WWF’s latest annual study of the extent and impact of conversion of grasslands to croplands reveals that though such activity generally declined across the Great Plains in 2017, it has nearly doubled in South Dakota within the same time span. The 2018 Plowprint Report shows that approximately 58,000 acres of grasslands were plowed up in the Northern Great Plains portion of the state last year. And the hardest hit areas in South Dakota are among the very same as those decimated by the Dust Bowl.

WWF is working with private landowners in the ranching community to slow grassland loss. As Rex Johnson of the South Dakota Grassland Coalition says:

“Well-managed grasslands are essential to the ecological and economic health of states in the Great Plains. A healthy grassland ecosystem builds soils with high organic matter to provide drought protection, supports a diverse communities of plant life, abundant wildlife, reduces runoff, and dramatically improves the quality of the water reaching our rivers, streams and lakes."

Learn more about the 2018 Plowprint Report and what WWF and its partners are doing to fight for the future of North America’s grasslands.



Published August 28, 2018 at 05:00AM

Seven unsung ecosystems we need to survive

Seven unsung ecosystems we need to survive

They may not be household names, like the Amazon rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef. But these forests, grasslands, savannas, and other ecosystems are just as vital to the health of our planet. They support an incredible range of plants and animals, as well as millions of people and their communities.

They also play a critical role in fighting climate change, helping regulate the Earth’s temperature and natural cycles by pulling harmful, heat-trapping CO2 out of the atmosphere. Explore some of the lesser-known ecosystems that do so much to keep our planet livable.

 

Cerrado savanna

When it comes to forests, the Amazon rainforest usually grabs the spotlight. But the nearby Cerrado, a wooded grassland covering more than 20% of Brazil, is equally important. It’s the world’s most biodiverse savanna, home to an astonishing 5% of the Earth’s plants and animals. Jaguars, giant anteaters, maned wolves, and armadillos live within this ecosystem, which also provides essential services to local communities and stores immense amounts of carbon in the ground.

In recent decades, agircultural expansion for beef and soy production has driven rapid deforestation across the region. As grasslands are plowed up, they release an estimated 250 million tons of greenhouse gases annually—the equivalent of burning 28 billion gallons of gasoline.

WWF partners with some of the world’s largest food companies, as well as local farmers, to halt deforestation in the Cerrado and to promote sustainable soy production.

 
 

Miombo woodlands

Elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and other wildlife roam the Miombo woodlands, which cover much of central and southern Africa. This unique ecosystem, named for the area’s many “miombo” trees, is about twice the size of Alaska and is made up of tropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands. Although the Miombo is still relatively intact and sparsely settled, these natural woodlands are increasingly threatened by development for agriculture, ranching, and charcoal production.

When trees are cleared and burned, carbon is released into the atmosphere and the land is less able to re-absorb greenhouse gases. WWF is working to conserve these important woodlands and help local communities use their natural resources more sustainably.

 
 

Amur-Heilong landscape

Straddling the border of China and Russia, the Amur-Heilong is one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world. About the size of Texas, this mixed woodland-grassland landscape is home to the world’s most endangered large cat, the Amur leopard, as well as a population of endangered Amur tigers. In addition to harboring a remarkable variety of plant and animal species, the landscape includes the 380-million-acre watershed of the Amur River—the longest undammed river in the Eastern Hemisphere.

But this landscape now faces mounting pressures from deforestation and infrastructure development, which pose huge threats to local wildlife and their environment. Throughout the Amur-Heilong, WWF helps to protect species by connecting important wildlife corridors and safeguarding essential habitat against illegal logging and other destructive activities.

 
 

Greater Mekong region

Few places on earth are as biodiverse or ecologically important as the Greater Mekong region. Stretching from the Tibetan plateau to the shores of Vietnam, this spectacular ecosystem features an abundance of rare wildlife, mangrove forests that protect coastal communities, and the largest combined tiger habitat in the world. It also supports the world’s largest inland fishery, an essential source of food and income for the river basin's 70 million people.

In the last 50 years, though, the Greater Mekong region has lost more than a third of its forests due to agricultural expansion and economic development. Fewer than 250 million acres of the region’s forest now remain, while tens of millions of additional acres are projected to disappear by 2030. The region’s fragile river systems are also severely threatened by infrastructure projects, such as dams for hydropower, which could devastate freshwater species and the communities that rely on rivers to live.

Along with governments and communities, we support the sustainable use of land and freshwater resources across the Greater Mekong while spearheading efforts to protect its rich biodiversity.

 
 

New Guinea’s forests

After the Amazon and Congo, the rainforests of New Guinea are the third-largest in the world. The island covers less than 1% of the planet’s land area but contains at least 5% of its species, many of which are only found there. These include kangaroos adapted to climb trees, giant pigeons, and more species of orchid than anywhere else on Earth. While much of New Guinea’s forests are still intact, the expanding production of crops like cocoa, coffee, and palm oil could drive the loss of 17 million acres of forest by 2030.

To prevent unsustainable agricultural practices and to combat illegal logging, WWF collaborates with indigenous peoples in New Guinea and helps companies achieve FSC certification, ensuring that forests are managed responsibly and that important habitats are conserved for future generations.

 
 

Forests of eastern Australia

Though Australia is mostly desert, the tropical and temperate forests, savannas, and shrublands along the country’s eastern coast are some of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth, with thousands of plant species and more than 150 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds found nowhere else.

Unfortunately, the continent’s forests are now being cleared at a rapid pace for livestock and agriculture, making it one of the world’s most at-risk deforestation fronts. But that’s not just bad news for trees. When trees and other vegetation are removed, sediment, fertilizer, and pesticides run off into the nearby Great Barrier Reef, where they smother coral reefs and pollute fragile marine ecosystems. Land-clearing also drives climate change, leading to rising ocean temperatures and coral bleaching.

In Australia, WWF is working to increase native forest cover and protect threatened species by advocating for stronger laws against excessive land-clearing, in addition to championing grater protections for the Great Barrier Reef.

 
 

Northern Great Plains

Two hundred years ago, as many as 60 million bison roamed America’s plains—along with pronghorn, black-footed ferrets, swift foxes, and a vast array of birds. As pioneers moved west in the 19th and early 20th centuries, however, hundreds of millions of acres of the country’s natural grasslands were converted for cropland, infrastructure, and living space.

Today, this landscape continues to lose ground. In recent years, the Northern Great Plains have lost more natural habitat than the Brazilian Amazon, emitting greenhouse gases equivalent to more than 100 million cars on the road each year. To keep this fragile prairie ecoregion intact, WWF works hand-in-hand with ranchers, farmers, and tribal nations to encourage sustainable land management, restore native species, and to protect the region’s natural and cultural heritage.

 


Published August 30, 2018 at 05:00AM

7 Unsung ecosystems we need to survive

7 Unsung ecosystems we need to survive

They may not be household names, like the Amazon rainforest or the Great Barrier Reef. But these forests, grasslands, savannas, and other ecosystems are just as vital to the health of our planet. They support an incredible range of plants and animals, as well as millions of people and their communities.

They also play a critical role in fighting climate change, helping regulate the Earth’s temperature and natural cycles by pulling harmful, heat-trapping CO2 out of the atmosphere. Explore some of the lesser-known ecosystems that do so much to keep our planet livable.

 

Cerrado savanna

When it comes to forests, the Amazon rainforest usually grabs the spotlight. But the nearby Cerrado, a wooded grassland covering more than 20% of Brazil, is equally important. It’s the world’s most biodiverse savanna, home to an astonishing 5% of the Earth’s plants and animals. Jaguars, giant anteaters, maned wolves, and armadillos live within this ecosystem, which also provides essential services to local communities and stores immense amounts of carbon in the ground.

In recent decades, agircultural expansion for beef and soy production has driven rapid deforestation across the region. As grasslands are plowed up, they release an estimated 250 million tons of greenhouse gases annually—the equivalent of burning 28 billion gallons of gasoline.

WWF partners with some of the world’s largest food companies, as well as local farmers, to halt deforestation in the Cerrado and to promote sustainable soy production.

 
 

Miombo woodlands

Elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebras and other wildlife roam the Miombo woodlands, which cover much of central and southern Africa. This unique ecosystem, named for the area’s many “miombo” trees, is about twice the size of Alaska and is made up of tropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands. Although the Miombo is still relatively intact and sparsely settled, these natural woodlands are increasingly threatened by development for agriculture, ranching, and charcoal production.

When trees are cleared and burned, carbon is released into the atmosphere and the land is less able to re-absorb greenhouse gases. WWF is working to conserve these important woodlands and help local communities use their natural resources more sustainably.

 
 

Amur-Heilong landscape

Straddling the border of China and Russia, the Amur-Heilong is one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world. About the size of Texas, this mixed woodland-grassland landscape is home to the world’s most endangered large cat, the Amur leopard, as well as a population of endangered Amur tigers. In addition to harboring a remarkable variety of plant and animal species, the landscape includes the 380-million-acre watershed of the Amur River—the longest undammed river in the Eastern Hemisphere.

But this landscape now faces mounting pressures from deforestation and infrastructure development, which pose huge threats to local wildlife and their environment. Throughout the Amur-Heilong, WWF helps to protect species by connecting important wildlife corridors and safeguarding essential habitat against illegal logging and other destructive activities.

 
 

Greater Mekong region

Few places on earth are as biodiverse or ecologically important as the Greater Mekong region. Stretching from the Tibetan plateau to the shores of Vietnam, this spectacular ecosystem features an abundance of rare wildlife, mangrove forests that protect coastal communities, and the largest combined tiger habitat in the world. It also supports the world’s largest inland fishery, an essential source of food and income for the river basin's 70 million people.

In the last 50 years, though, the Greater Mekong region has lost more than a third of its forests due to agricultural expansion and economic development. Fewer than 250 million acres of the region’s forest now remain, while tens of millions of additional acres are projected to disappear by 2030. The region’s fragile river systems are also severely threatened by infrastructure projects, such as dams for hydropower, which could devastate freshwater species and the communities that rely on rivers to live.

Along with governments and communities, we support the sustainable use of land and freshwater resources across the Greater Mekong while spearheading efforts to protect its rich biodiversity.

 
 

New Guinea’s forests

After the Amazon and Congo, the rainforests of New Guinea are the third-largest in the world. The island covers less than 1% of the planet’s land area but contains at least 5% of its species, many of which are only found there. These include kangaroos adapted to climb trees, giant pigeons, and more species of orchid than anywhere else on Earth. While much of New Guinea’s forests are still intact, the expanding production of crops like cocoa, coffee, and palm oil could drive the loss of 17 million acres of forest by 2030.

To prevent unsustainable agricultural practices and to combat illegal logging, WWF collaborates with indigenous peoples in New Guinea and helps companies achieve FSC certification, ensuring that forests are managed responsibly and that important habitats are conserved for future generations.

 
 

Forests of eastern Australia

Though Australia is mostly desert, the tropical and temperate forests, savannas, and shrublands along the country’s eastern coast are some of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth, with thousands of plant species and more than 150 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds found nowhere else.

Unfortunately, the continent’s forests are now being cleared at a rapid pace for livestock and agriculture, making it one of the world’s most at-risk deforestation fronts. But that’s not just bad news for trees. When trees and other vegetation are removed, sediment, fertilizer, and pesticides run off into the nearby Great Barrier Reef, where they smother coral reefs and pollute fragile marine ecosystems. Land-clearing also drives climate change, leading to rising ocean temperatures and coral bleaching.

In Australia, WWF is working to increase native forest cover and protect threatened species by advocating for stronger laws against excessive land-clearing, in addition to championing grater protections for the Great Barrier Reef.

 
 

Northern Great Plains

Two hundred years ago, as many as 60 million bison roamed America’s plains—along with pronghorn, black-footed ferrets, swift foxes, and a vast array of birds. As pioneers moved west in the 19th and early 20th centuries, however, hundreds of millions of acres of the country’s natural grasslands were converted for cropland, infrastructure, and living space.

Today, this landscape continues to lose ground. In recent years, the Northern Great Plains have lost more natural habitat than the Brazilian Amazon, emitting greenhouse gases equivalent to more than 100 million cars on the road each year. To keep this fragile prairie ecoregion intact, WWF works hand-in-hand with ranchers, farmers, and tribal nations to encourage sustainable land management, restore native species, and to protect the region’s natural and cultural heritage.

 


Published August 30, 2018 at 05:00AM

WWF examines the loss of produce on farms and pathways to change

WWF examines the loss of produce on farms and pathways to change

It’s a familiar feeling: you open the refrigerator door only to find that the greens you purchased several days ago—and unfortunately forgot about—have wilted beyond the point of use. Into the compost or trash bin it goes.

But did you know that food loss can occur long before you even buy it? In a new study, WWF zoomed in on 35 farms across the country to assess how much produce never leaves the field after harvest. During the 2017-2018 growing season at a sample of farms in Florida, New Jersey, Idaho, and Arizona, we found that 40% of tomatoes, 39% of peaches, 56% of romaine lettuce, and 2% of potatoes grown to be processed into other food (like French fries) were left behind, often due to weather, labor costs, or market conditions.

The report also highlights the potential to make fruits and vegetables more available in the US by making better use of what farmers already produce.

Home grown
Between 60% and 75%  of fresh produce available in the US is grown domestically. That means farmers, retailers, and consumers here at home can help ensure less food is lost as it moves from farm to plate.

Why does food loss happen?
Often faced with hardships and economic losses, farmers must decide whether to grow more produce than they can sell under contracts with grocers and other retailers, with the understanding that some of that harvest will remain in the field. They also must decide whether to rescue edible but unmarketable produce—perfectly fine food that doesn’t meet the product quality standards—or to allow outside organizations and gleaners to rescue this produce, which often happens at a cost to the farmer. Farmers also face shifting labor dynamics, challenging market conditions, increasingly unpredictable weather patterns and quality standards that can make it difficult to find markets for all produce coming out of the field.

When crops are left in field, they most often get tilled back under the earth to re-enrich the soil or serve as animal feed. That’s not the worst fate for lost crops, but the energy, water, and other resources that went into growing this produce goes to waste.

Food waste and the climate
When we produce food that goes uneaten, we release unnecessary greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere—and a lot of them. Agriculture, forestry, and other land uses account for about 12 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year; only the energy sector emits more. And food waste alone accounts for about 8% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused specifically by humans.  That’s why at this September’s Global Climate Action Summit, WWF will herald the Forest, Food, and Land Challenge, calling for action to improve food production and consumption, better conserve forests and habitats, efficiently use land, and for people across these sectors to work together to deliver up to 30% of the climate solutions needed by 2030, as identified by the Paris Climate Agreement.

But for lands like farms to be part of how we address climate change, we need to better understand how they’re being used (and sometimes abused). WWF will continue to study food loss on farms and at other points from the farm-to-plate journey. We’re also exploring how to rescue and effectively use extra produce. As we learn more about what causes food loss and where it happens, we can recommend the changes needed on the farm, at the store, and in our own homes that will allow us to use more of what we grow.



Published August 21, 2018 at 05:00AM

Jungle School

Jungle School

Willy clenches a vine with her feet and dangles upside-down, letting her lanky arms hang slack. As she pushes herself forward, the vine starts swinging. She’s satisfied with this for a minute or two before an adjacent tree becomes more appealing. She wraps her arms around it, frees her legs, and rapidly slides down the trunk, groundward.  

The uniformed young man who’s been standing watch nearby moves toward her, grunting Eh! Eh! Eh! His tone is soft but admonishing. The orangutan contracts into a ball and squats atop some brush at the base of the tree, whimpering.

Orangutans spend roughly 90% of their time in the tree canopy; it isn’t normal for Willy to want to spend much time on the ground. Willy is a student, so to speak. She’s learning how to be wild. The 12-year-old Sumatran orangutan was taken from her mother at a young age and illegally kept in a Sumatran household as a pet before being rescued. Now, at the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, she’s one of dozens of orphaned orangutans taught how to feed and fend for themselves in the lowland rainforests of central Sumatra—skills they never had the chance to pick up from their mothers.

The center is located in an area of Sumatra known as Thirty Hills, a tract of increasingly rare tropical forest here that is home to orangutans, elephants and tigers as well as local communities. The Orangutan Project, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and WWF are working together to help manage and protect this 100,000 acres of forests. Most of the rehabilitation center’s pupils, like Willy, are former pets. But that’s not because of a booming illegal orangutan trade. According to Peter Pratje, who directs FZS’s Sumatra work, the main reason orangutans are captured and sold is the widespread conversion of natural forests across the Indonesian island.

“Orangutans in the illegal market are a side effect of deforestation,” Pratje says. “Hardly anyone would go into the forest to intentionally poach a baby orangutan. It wouldn’t pay off. But when people go into the forest to clear it, they come across a little baby and try to take advantage and get it. Which will only work if you kill the mother.”

To rescue captive or orphaned orangutans, the center relies on an extensive network of local contacts and law enforcement officials. Once primates arrive at the center, they progress through a series of lessons designed to teach them everything from how to climb trees to more complicated tasks like finding fruit and building the nests wild orangutans sleep in every night.

When they’re ready to start spending long periods of time alone, pupils at the center are still carefully tracked by technicians--most of whom come from nearby villages—to make sure they’re getting proper nutrition and not trying to revert to what they may have learned from humans. Every orangutan who “graduates” is tagged so it can be easily monitored.

“Even after they’re released, the orangutans still know to come back to the center when they get sick or  injured,” says Andhani Widya Hartanti, one of the veterinarians for the center. Hartanti is currently on site because an eight-year-old named Dora got sick and needed her attention, but she says the orangutan is recovering quickly. “When an orangutan that was sick becomes healthy again, that’s my happiest moment at work,” Hartanti adds.

Only between 6,000 to 10,000 Sumatran orangutans are estimated to remain in the wild, making them critically endangered. Beyond its immediate goal of rehabilitating and releasing rescued orangutans, FZS is working toward two bigger, longer-term goals: Establishing a healthy new population of these endangered primates in the forests of Thirty Hills, where no orangutans were present before FZS began its work here, and protecting those forests for future generations of orangutans.

So far, the center has released 170 orangutans into the wild, making 30 Hills a rare success story for this species. The goal is to reach 350—the minimum required for a stable population—in the next two decades. But when asked how many orangutans this jungle could shelter, Pratje estimates 4,000.

“Thousands would be the minimum carrying capacity,” he says. “When we were deciding where to establish this new population, for me, we had to work here, because it’s exceptional to have such a large area of lowland rainforest.”



Published August 17, 2018 at 05:00AM

Advancing climate action through global partnerships

Advancing climate action through global partnerships

In 2015, nearly 200 countries signed a historic agreement in Paris that established the world’s first truly global plan to tackle climate change. Now, three years later, there’s still a significant gap between current country emissions reductions pledges and what’s needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and stave off the worst impacts of a warming planet.    

To address this gap, leaders from businesses, local governments, higher education, and communities are coming together to establish domestic coalitions in support of climate action. Working closely with national governments, these alliances aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that national climate pledges are met.

This week, more than 35 Mexican entities, from universities to local governments, officially signed a declaration stating that they will work together to advance the country’s goal of reducing up to 36% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The Alianza Mexicana para la Acción Climática—whose signatories represent more than 5 million people—is now the world’s third multi-stakeholder climate coalition assembled to help deliver on one countries’ Paris Agreement pledges.

“There’s a new face of climate leadership emerging from around the world: CEOs, university presidents, civil society, and leaders from local government and indigenous communities,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, WWF’s global climate and energy practice lead. “They are demanding climate action and partnering together to accelerate implementation in key countries. This is a global groundswell and we are all in.”

In Japan, meanwhile, more than 150 companies have launched the Japan Climate Initiative, a group dedicated to realizing a carbon-free society and expanding renewable energies. Comprised of local governments, small businesses, and major companies such as Sony and Panasonic Corp., the group was inspired by United States’ We Are Still In, a movement that WWF helped to establish in June 2017 after the Trump Administration announced that the US would pull out of the Paris Agreement.

Japan and Mexico’s climate coalitions are members of the Alliances for Climate Action (ACA), a new global network—supported by WWF and our partners—working to accelerate individual countries’ progress towards climate targets. Alliances for Climate Action will work collaboratively with We Are Still In in the States, which has grown to nearly 3,000 signatories collectively representing 155 million Americans and $9.5 trillion of the U.S. economy. 

According to the United Nations, action by businesses and local leaders around the globe has the potential to halve the emissions gap. But if we’re going to avoid 2°C of global warming, then greater collective action is needed.

Through the Alliances for Climate Action, WWF and partners will continue to support and grow a contingency of leaders dedicated to pursuing immediate climate action. Across the globe, we’re empowering domestic coalitions to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient society, ensuring that national and local governments, businesses, universities and communities maintain critical momentum towards meeting the goals set out in Paris.



Published August 17, 2018 at 05:00AM

Hopping on board with WWF’s Panda Paddle

Hopping on board with WWF’s Panda Paddle

This October, WWF will host its first-ever standup paddle boarding (SUP) fundraising event, Panda Paddle, sponsored by Target. On October 20, 2018, athletes and WWF supporters will grab their paddles and complete a world-class SUP race in San Diego’s Mission Bay, all while raising funds for WWF’s work to protect nature. Whether you’re a pro paddle boarder or new to the board, WWF invites you to join us in taking a stand—and paddling—for conservation. Learn why one of WWF’s top Panda Paddle fundraisers, environmentalist and paddle board enthusiast Kristen Goodrich, is participating.

 What inspired you to buy your first paddle board?

I’d been dreaming of owning my own paddle board for years. In April, I had an amazing wildlife experience while paddle boarding. I was in about five feet of gorgeous clear water at La Jolla Shores when a Broadnose sevengill shark and a giant green sea turtle gracefully swam under my board. Seeing these animals inspired me to finally purchase my own standup paddle board, which has since increased my time on the water.

Why did you decide to participate in WWF’s Panda Paddle event?

I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. I'm fascinated by it, inspired by it, and happiest by it. But today, I'm terrified for it. Our oceans are in crisis: we’re polluting it with plastics, acidifying it, depleting its fisheries and our source of food. I've dedicated my career to environment work, but I can't help but wonder if I’m doing enough. So when I saw a post about the Panda Paddle on Facebook, I jumped at the opportunity to participate.

 What connects you to our mission?

I’ve always felt connected to WWF as an organization. Every Christmas I adopt an animal for my nephews. I believe that non-profits have a tough job and a unique role to play in conservation, and I’ve always felt that WWF has kept its mission in sight and its integrity intact. Our planet is facing unprecedented changes and needs all hands on deck.

You’ve already raised more than $1,000 for WWF. Have you ever fundraised for us before?

This is my first fundraiser ever! I thought fundraising was going to be really hard, so I wanted to get a head start. I thought that if people donated I would feel more accountable to train for the event.

How do you connect people to your fundraising efforts?

I’m really honest. I let people know that this is my first fundraiser and that I’m doing something out of my comfort zone—both the competition and fundraising. I think people can relate to that. I have an amazing circle of friends and a professional community that care deeply about the environment. Even though I’ve felt a little sheepish asking people to donate, I’ve been really supported in my efforts.

On social media, I started posting about my paddle and used World Ocean Day to ask people to donate. I also make sure that I recognize every donor in my posts.  

Sign up for Panda Paddle today! Can’t make it to San Diego? You can sign up to paddle and fundraise in your own community!



Published August 14, 2018 at 05:00AM

Cultivating sustainable livelihoods and environmental resiliency in Mozambique

Cultivating sustainable livelihoods and environmental resiliency in Mozambique

In a small village along the northern coast of Mozambique, a remote region where electricity is scarce and roads are nearly non-existent, a group of mostly women in colorful traditional dress are seated in a circle on the floor of a community building. One by one, each person stands and walks to the middle of the circle, where she hands a bill or two to another villager—the congregation’s de facto bank teller. “Two hundred,” says one woman, then waits for confirmation that the transaction has been recorded.

At first, this modest gathering doesn’t seem to have much to do with conservation. But here, in Serema, in Mozambique’s Primeiras e Segundas region, villagers are taking part in a savings and loan association that’s revolutionizing how they manage their financial and natural resources.

Primeiras e Segundas is one of the poorest regions of one of the world’s poorest countries, where 70% of the population relies on natural resources to live. For many, that means life is lived on the edge—often just one monsoon or bad harvest away from economic ruin. Families must work hard to keep food on the table and generate enough income to pay for essentials they can’t produce, such as medicine or school fees.

Along the coast, most households rely on a combination of fishing and farming to survive, eating much of what they produce and selling what they can. But overfishing and commercial fishing vessels have depleted fish stocks closer to land, which over time has forced villagers to fish farther and farther out to sea in their rickety, unreliable “dhows.” Agriculture provides an alternative to fishing, but yields are often low and climate change is shifting weather patterns in unpredictable ways, making farming increasingly difficult.

As pressures on ecosystems grow, people urgently need alternative sources of income beyond fishing and farming.

These are the problems that WWF and CARE set out to address when they first launched their global partnership, the CARE-WWF Alliance, in 2008. Recognizing the incontrovertible link between healthy ecosystems and food and economic security, the Alliance has been working throughout the Primeiras e Segundas region to establish a suite of initiatives aimed at fighting poverty and improving food security by reducing environmental degradation and securing livelihoods.  

A key component of that work has been establishing savings and loan associations to help families—and especially women—increase their financial security by diversifying their incomes. The idea behind these programs is simple: each week, community members contribute small amounts of money they’ve saved to a pooled fund. People can then borrow money from the fund to invest in microbusinesses, pay for their children’s school, or cover unexpected expenses.

One villager recently took out a loan to buy salt for preserving fish, providing her family with a reliable source of protein when the fishing isn’t good and allowing her to sell preserved fish when there’s a better market price instead of the day it’s caught. Another uses borrowed funds to make baked goods that she sells to her neighbors, giving her income that’s not dependent on fishing yields.

By making it easier for villagers to access capital, these associations are enabling them to earn livelihoods that aren’t solely reliant on natural resources. That in turn benefits local economies while alleviating pressures on fragile ecosystems, such as agricultural land and fisheries.  

But savings and loans programs are just one piece of a complex economic puzzle. Because the region’s economy is so intrinsically tied to the environment, the Alliance also works to protect and sustainably manage the vital ecosystems—from farmland to mangrove forests and estuaries—on which people’s livelihoods depend.

For the last decade, that has included developing and safeguarding community-managed marine sanctuaries throughout the Primeiras e Segundas coastal marine reserve, a protected area spanning 4,020 square miles that was declared as Mozambique’s first Environmental Protected Area in 2012. Working in tandem with local fishermen and governments, the Alliance governs no-take fishing zones across the areas’ rich fisheries and estuaries, making sure that these resources are buffered against overfishing and other destructive practices.

On land, the Alliance helps farmers implement various agricultural techniques, such as building soil health and moisture retention, to improve the productivity of small-share farms and decereasing peoples’ need to fish.  

These conservation strategies might seem like a far cry from encouraging women to save a few dollars each week. But together, they form a critical safety net that’s helping Mozambicans to earn sustainable livelihoods while protecting their natural resources, ensuring that their oceans, lands, and well-being are safeguarded now—and for generations to come.



Published August 16, 2018 at 05:00AM

How many muscles does an elephant’s trunk have? And 6 other elephant facts

How many muscles does an elephant’s trunk have? And 6 other elephant facts

Elephants, found in both Africa and Asia, are vital to maintaining the rich biodiversity of the ecosystems that they share with other species.

WWF focuses its conservation efforts on saving the world’s largest mammal in sites across both continents. We work with wildlife managers, governments and local communities to stop poaching, reduce human-wildlife conflict and improve monitoring and research.

Here’s a look at some interesting elephant facts.

1. How many muscles does an elephant trunk have?

An elephant trunk has up to 40,000 muscles in it. A human has more than 600 muscles in his/her entire body. Elephants use their trunks to pick up objects, trumpet warnings and greet one another.

2. What's the difference between Asian and African elephants?

There are more than 10 physical characteristics that differentiate Asian and African elephants. For example, Asian elephants are smaller than their African brethren, and their ears are straight at the bottom, distinct from the large fan-shaped ears of the African species. Only some male Asian elephants have tusks, while African elephants—both male and female—grow tusks.

3. Do elephants have a dominant tusk?

Elephants are either left- or right-tusked, and the dominant tusk is generally smaller because of wear and tear from frequent use.

4. How often do elephants give birth?

Elephants have the longest gestation period of any mammal—22 months. Females give birth every four to five years. Matriarchs also dominate the complex social structure of elephants and calves, while male elephants tend to live in isolation or in small bachelor groups.

5. How do elephants help their ecosystem thrive?

Elephants are important ecosystem engineers. Many tree species in central African and Asian forests rely on seeds passing through an elephant's digestive tract before they can germinate.

6. What's the most urgent threat to elephants?

Today, the greatest threat to African elephants is wildlife crime, primarily poaching for the illegal ivory trade, while the greatest threat to Asian elephants is habitat loss and resulting human-elephant conflict. WWF uses our expertise in policy, wildlife trade, advocacy, and communications in an effort to stop wildlife crime and illegal ivory trade, reduce human-elephant conflict, and protect elephant habitats. You can help, too, by signing on to stop wildlife crime.

7. How does WWF help humans and elephants peacefully coexist?

As wild spaces shrink, elephants and humans are forced into contact and often clash. WWF helps prevent and mitigate elephant-human conflict through various programs, including electric fences to protect crops and trained response teams to safely drive wild elephants away from farms and human habitation.



Published August 10, 2018 at 05:00AM

Legendary undercover investigators protect forests

Legendary undercover investigators protect forests

Week to week, their names and professions vary, changing to fit the different surroundings and people they move between. They’re the chameleons of the rain forest.

“I watch a lot of James Bond movies,” one of them jokes.

The men in question can’t be named or pictured, because they’re undercover investigators for a deforestation watchdog group called Eyes on the Forest (EoF). And they’re routinely putting their safety on the line to protect Thirty Hills, one of the last great swaths of rainforest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Since the 1980s, Sumatra has been clearing its forests at a breakneck pace, largely for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Eyes on the Forest was founded in 2004 in Riau Province--the epicenter of the deforestation--to expose that destruction to the world.

The group has since become legendary. Through detective work, photography, satellite imagery, and, more recently, drone footage, EoF has produced a slew of investigative reports detailing Sumatra’s deforestation, as well as the political and corporate corruption driving it.

Their investigations have helped land six Indonesian government officials in jail, including a former governor of Riau Province. EoF reports were key to a campaign against Asia Pulp & Paper, one of the world’s largest paper companies with a deforestation legacy of more than 2 million hectares, that forced APP to pledge to stop pulping tiger habitat to make toilet paper. Google lent them assistance to develop a cutting-edge online map that tracks deforestation and deforestation drivers like APP. Eyes on the Forest uses satellite imagery NASA provides freely to the public and WWF-Indonesia is a part of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's science initiative to test their radar satellite images.

EoF’s investigations have long focused on Sumatra’s Riau Province. In 2014, the group expanded its network to Borneo as several NGOs established a consortium; and in 2015 the network was redeveloped as Kalimantan’s Eyes on the Forest network. In 2016, EoF was asked to open a new network in Sumatra’s Jambi Province, to monitor loss of the vulnerable forests of Thirty Hills.

“WWF-Indonesia and partners had just secured a concession there to protect a big chunk of forest outside Thirty Hills National Park,” says Jan Vertefeuille, head of wildlife conservation advocacy for WWF-US. “And we believed that encroachers had cleared some of the forest in the concession while we were waiting to get the license. Eyes on the Forest brought the model they developed in Riau for use in monitoring the concession.”

In March 2016, with support from a handful of office-based staff, four EoF investigators began exploring Thirty Hills in disguise. They quickly discovered a number of encroachments in the forest concession; the biggest was a 3,200-acre palm oil plantation. “We heard about that one through a local informant,” says Nursamsu, EoF’s founder and coordinator. “Based on what we found, we believe a village leader hostile to WWF ‘sold’ it to a powerful individual in Jakarta.”

Thanks to that discovery, PT. Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT), the company that WWF-Indonesia and partners started to manage the concession, has filed a police complaint against the plantation owner. Meanwhile, EoF’s investigators continue to patrol other parts of the concession undercover.

It’s dangerous work. In 2007 during a patrol in Riau’s Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the investigators was attacked by angry mob, kidnapped, and held hostage by an encroacher. “The encroacher and his men beat me and the others with me, and then took me to his house,” he says. “It took six hours for us to be released.”

Despite that experience, the investigator says he’s as committed as ever to protecting Thirty Hills and Sumatra’s other forests. Plus, he likes his job. “You have to think on your feet and blend into different settings and situations. You have to adapt quickly to new things,” he says of his work. “I enjoy that.”



Published August 09, 2018 at 05:00AM

Congratulations, Bahamas! We Did It!

Congratulations, Bahamas! We Did It!

The waters around The Bahamas are classic Caribbean: vibrant shades of turquoise from afar, crystal-clear on the surface, and teeming with corals, seagrasses, and animals of every color. Because these diverse species evolved together over eons, they are interdependent. Each species relies on others for food, so removing even one can throw the ecosystem out of balance.

One species—spiny lobster—is particularly popular, both on land and at sea. People enjoy the crustacean, as do dolphins, sharks, turtles and other animals. That’s why it’s so important that The Bahamas’ lobster fishermen just earned certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for managing their fishery to the highest available standard of environmental performance.

Eight years ago, World Wildlife Fund began collaborating with The Nature Conservancy as well as Bahamian government officials, exporters, and fishermen to manage the fishery sustainably. MSC certification means that they have made significant strides in their environmental performance, helping position the fishery to produce food and jobs as sustainably as possible.

“We eagerly accept the MSC stamp of approval,” said Mia Isaacs, president of the Bahamas Marine Export Association. “It's been a collaborative effort and we are thankful to all the stakeholders, especially the fishermen. As we continually improve our spiny lobster fishery, we aim for product of The Bahamas to become synonymous with strength, collaboration and sustainability. MSC certification is a proud accomplishment. Congratulations, Bahamas! We did it!”

WWF engaged leading U.S. companies, such as Costco, Kroger, Hyatt, Hilton, Tequesta Bay, and Supervalu, to use their buying power to encourage fishermen to work toward MSC certification and to provide the financial support needed to achieve their goal.

“Earning certification is a win-win-win for the lobster fishermen, their buyers, consumers, and for all the animals that enjoy lobster as much as we humans do,” said Wendy Goyert, WWF’s lead specialist for Latin America fisheries in transition. “This is a huge achievement for The Bahamas, and we congratulate everyone for working so hard to manage this precious resource for the long-term.”



Published August 07, 2018 at 05:00AM

Kui Buri National Park’s only female ranger shatters stereotypes

Kui Buri National Park’s only female ranger shatters stereotypes

Woraya Makal comes across as a gentle and soft-spoken woman, but she is clear about what she wants and does not mince her words, especially when explaining why she chose her current occupation.

“I became a ranger because [as a ranger] you have the right to make decisions on your own,” she says of her work.

“And because I love nature.”

Woraya, called Kwan, is the only female ranger in the whole of Kui Buri National Park - a protected area in south-western Thailand, that borders Myanmar to the west.

A veteran in her field, Kwan has spent almost a decade engaging in wildlife protection and patrolling national parks. At Kui Buri, where she has worked for two and a half years, she is one of 116 rangers. 

In Thailand, women like Kwan remain a rarity. But neither this nor the voices alleging that women aren’t suited for the ranger lifestyle – which comprises long working hours in spartan and sometimes dangerous conditions, away from loved ones – have prevented her from living her truth.

“I think [gender] doesn’t matter for your occupation. Any job that a man can do a woman can do also. Sometimes even better,” Kwan asserts, chuckling.

Like her colleagues, she ventures out on patrol for 15 days each month, sometimes in the company of WWF staff. Armed with a digital camera – an item she rarely parts with – Kwan documents wildlife movements throughout the park and looks out for snares left behind by poachers.

At the end of each day, she sends her findings and photographs via a mobile app to her supervisors, who log it onto the SMART patrolling system –software that allows for better planning of rangers’ and WWF’s joint protection efforts.

“When I go on my motorbike, it is to check where the animals come out and give that information to the tourists,” she says.

Over the years, Kui Buri has become known as one of the best places in Thailand for spotting Asian elephants and mighty gaurs (also known as Indian bison). If you’re lucky, you might even see a rare banteng, a species of wild forest cattle, among the herds of gaur. Because Kui Buri’s wildlife attracts visitors from all over the world, one of Kwan’s responsibilities is to look out for the people admiring the animals and share information with the park’s guides as to the wildlife’s whereabouts.

She also engages in habitat improvement. The activity— which includes removing weeds from the park’s open fields with fellow rangers and WWF staffers and replanting native vegetation—ensures elephants have enough food within the park and don’t venture out in search of food in neighboring plantations.

Kwan lives for much of the year at a ranger base camp in the park. That, and the collaborative nature of her work means that close alliances are formed quickly. “The way we make jokes and talk to each other it’s really like family,” she proclaims when talking about her seven-person ranger unit.

That’s not to say she doesn’t miss her loved ones. Kwan admits her close-knit community is no substitute for her two teenage sons, who live with their father in another province.

A 2016 survey conducted by WWF 11 Asian countries, including Thailand, revealed that that 45% of the 530 rangers surveyed saw their families less than five days a month. Kwan visits her children twice a month, at most – a choice she makes with a heavy heart but one she sees as necessary to pay for their education.

Kwan concedes she sometimes faces criticism for choosing a profession that separates her from her sons because she is a woman and a mother, but she doesn’t dwell on negative voices.

“If I care about what other people think, I will not provide for [my children],” she says. “I work for them.”

This passion for her family, and for the park and its wildlife, drive Kwan and rangers like her, who serve so bravely on the frontlines of conservation.

Back a ranger: Help the women and men protecting nature and wildlife



Published July 31, 2018 at 05:00AM

Rare footage shows successful tiger breeding

Rare footage shows successful tiger breeding

Rare and never-before-seen footage of a Sumatran tiger family offers exciting proof of tigers breeding successfully in the wild. The video shows a female tigress - named Rima - and her 3 cubs growing up in Central Sumatra. Rima then meets Uma, a male Sumatra tiger, and breeds successfully to have four more tiger cubs.

Yet, tigers are endangered, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Today, there are only around 3,900 wild tigers worldwide. That’s more than a 95% decline from perhaps 100,000 just over a century ago.

Top predators in the food chain, wild tigers play a crucial role in maintaining balanced ecosystems that support thousands of other species and millions of people.

“If left to their own devices with enough habitat, prey and protection, tigers will breed,” said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president for wildlife conservation, WWF. “This video shows progress toward tiger population recovery in Indonesia and demonstrates what’s possible when governments, businesses and local communities work together toward a conservation goal.”

WWF works closely with partners around the world to achieve the TX2 goal—to double the number of tigers in the wild. This includes supporting rangers with proper training and equipment, collaborating with governments to strengthen protected areas management, and ensuring that local communities benefit from tiger conservation.

WWF also works with supporters worldwide to urge their local governments to prioritize tiger conservation, buy sustainably-sourced products that do not contribute to habitat destruction and ensure that they do not visit tiger farms or buy illegal tiger parts.



Published July 30, 2018 at 05:00AM

Sumatran tiger caught on camera

Sumatran tiger caught on camera

The camera traps are part of a collaboration between WWF and the Riau Forestry Department to help determine which species abound in the region. An important conservation tool, the cameras are equipped with infrared sensors that take a picture whenever they sense movement in the forest.  Around 18 cameras were strategically installed back in March of 2017 to support WWF’s intensive tiger monitoring in central Sumatra.

“This is the first time we have caught such a beautiful image of a tiger here. I feel our hard work has paid off just by seeing this majestic creature roaming on the island,” said Febri Anggriawan, WWF-Indonesia’s Tiger Research Coordinator leading this study.

The smallest in size of all wild tigers, the Sumatran tiger faces threats from rampant poaching and deforestation for palm oil and pulp and paper. Today, less than 400 of these tigers hold on for survival in the remaining patches of forests on the island of Sumatra. WWF works with the government of Indonesia and conservation partners to strengthen law enforcement and antipoaching efforts and slow deforestation in their remaining habitat.

SAVE TIGERS NOW

Help us reach our goal of 300 donors in honor of Global Tiger Day, July 29—donate to protect tigers today.



Published July 29, 2018 at 05:00AM

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