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6 NOVEMBER 20216 NOVEMBER 2021
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EWT African Crane Conservation Programme +

What we do

Biodiversity conservation has moved from the fringes of social priorities into the centre of political discourse and socio-economic concern. People around the world can no longer ignore the fact that the environment in which we live underpins every single human need, demonstrated every day by both the losses of thousands of lives due to environmental disasters or the lack of access to quality natural resources, as well as by the dependence of millions of lives on their natural surroundings for their sustainability.

As one of South Africa’s leading biodiversity conservation organisations, the EWT is striving to facilitate the protection and sustainable use of key ecosystems. The EWT has a cohesive and integrated approach to the conservation of species, habitats and ecosystem processes and we therefore focus much of our work on protecting both threatened species and habitats. Successful conservation thus means protecting the habitats that support species – and human beings – and in this way entire ecosystems, communities and socio-economic structures reap the benefits.

The EWT believes that sustainable conservation requires inclusive approaches, to not only address biodiversity objectives, but also the interests of the people and industries relying on the ecosystems services. This we do by developing innovative and adaptive conservation and management solutions, aligned and compatible with the broader economic and social imperatives of the region.

The overall goal of our African Crane Conservation project is to build human and ecosystem resilience within the core crane regions within South Africa for the benefit of people and biodiversity. This is achieved through the expansion of protected areas; the protection of Ecosystem Goods and Services; mentorship and support of landowners (both private and communal) to better manage land and water resources; and the improvement of livelihoods of people through economic development within the regions.

Through this project we use Cranes as flagships for the protection and restoration of key wetlands and grasslands within strategically selected catchments that are important for both people and cranes alike. We focus on improved wetland and grassland management and protection and if needs be, rehabilitation within the following catchments in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga: Umzimvubu, Umzimkulu, uMgeni, Mooi, Vaal, Komati, Usutu and Olifants. In addition, we work with communities in each of the focus areas to ensure people become part of the long-term solution in conserving our natural resources and biodiversity. This is achieved through our community projects, employment opportunities and training that together promote skills development. Because the project areas are provincial, national, and global priorities both for biodiversity and water supply, we play an important role in the South African protected area system, securing a large area of the under-represented and highly threatened grassland biome and a wetland landscape unique in the country.

Maloti Drakensberg Vulture Project +

The Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project, Project Vulture, is dedicated to actively taking a stand to ensure the protection and conservation of our vulnerable and critically endangered vulture species.

In 2013, more than 1440 vultures were poisoned in southern Africa. This alarming rate combined with other threats has forced many vulture populations down to critical levels. So much so, that if this high mortality rate continues, we may see these majestic birds disappear from South African skies forever.

The southern African Bearded Vulture population has been reduced to just 350 birds, and is listed as critically endangered. The entire population resides in the Maloti-Drakensberg mountain range, and this is the only viable population remaining in the southern Hemisphere.

There are currently approximately 1450 Cape Vultures inhabiting the Maloti-Drakensberg region. A shocking 7% of the local population was killed in poisoning incidents in 2013.

Both of these species of vultures face many growing threats which continue to encroach on their shrinking breeding and foraging territories. These threats include human persecution, poisoning, powerline collisions and electrocutions as well as collisions with wind turbines.

Vultures are an important ecological component, occurring at the top of the food chain. Healthy vulture population numbers are a clear indication of a well balanced environment. Vultures also play an important cultural, economic and aesthetic role, and are a symbol of our national heritage.

The vulture performs a number of important tasks which are vitally beneficial to humans, as well as the environment at large. These tasks include their “clean-up” properties; ridding the environment of decomposing carcasses. This prevents the spread of diseases such as anthrax, brucellosis and rabies. In India, the eradication of vultures through poisoning has been responsible for the ongoing rabies epidemic.

The Maloti-Drakensberg Vulture Project is a long term recovery project, requiring dedicated monitoring programs, the implementation of conservation actions, as well as public awareness and support. If effective recovery systems are not put in place and the slaughter of these raptors continues then it is but a matter of time, sooner rather than later, before this vital ecological component and protected species disappears from our skies forever.

For more information on Project Vulture please visit http://projectvulture.org.za.

Wildlife ACT Rhino Conservation +

Fuelled by a growing demand for rhino horn in primarily China and Vietnam and driven by international criminal syndicates, rhino around the world are under threat of extinction. South Africa is one of the last countries to have a significant population of black and white rhino left in the wild and is one of the reasons why South Africa is bearing the brunt of what can be described as one of the worst global wildlife conservation crises of the past 100 years.

Although, nationally, the numbers of rhino poached year on year have decreased in the last two years, the rate of poaching in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) parks has increased. It is therefore crucial that the efforts and energy focused on fighting this war are not reduced in anyway.

Wildlife ACT is a founding member of Project Rhino, an association of like-minded organisations facilitating rhino conservation interventions in KwaZulu-Natal. The efforts focus on eliminating rhino poaching in the region, thus securing crucial populations of white and black rhino for the benefit of current and future generations.

The members of Project Rhino recognise that the work in conserving and protecting rhino from the threat of poaching is symbolic of the broader threat faced by all wildlife, and that all wildlife will benefit from actions taken by Project Rhino. We believe that by collaborating to achieve a common vision, we are able to more effectively use limited resources to tackle a national problem.

Wildlife ACT focuses its rhino conservation efforts on several elements including:

  • Post release and ongoing monitoring;
  • Dehorning of rhino populations on smaller protected areas;
  • Support of the Project Rhino K9 Unit within the Zululand network of protected areas;
  • Support of field ranger and anti-poaching units within protected areas;
  • Developing and implementing anti-poaching measures and technology in the field;
  • Conservation education through an established community conservation programme.

The work is carried out in partnership with various conservation organisations and reserve management authorities, including Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the state conservation authority, and private and community land owners.

Wildlife ACT Vulture Conservation +

Vultures are an extremely important species in terms of the role that they plan in ecosystem services, principally the role they play in cycling of nutrients and disposal of carcasses and organic waste from the environment. Their numbers, however, are in sharp decline due to numerous reasons. In KwaZulu- Natal, South Africa, this pattern is also being experienced, with numbers of African White-backed, White-headed and Lappet-faced Vultures showing rapid decline in the range. Poisoning, intentional for the illegal Vulture trade and unintentional for predator control, is one of the most severe contributors to Vulture deaths in KZN. We’re focusing on strengthening ground teams and enabling them to identify and respond to emergencies timeously, preventing hundreds of bird mortalities and decreasing the impact on humans by decontaminating these sites.

The critical ecosystem services that vultures provide in our environment is grossly underestimated and goes largely under appreciated. Due to their wide-ranging habits, vultures are exposed to a variety of threats, and population numbers have plummeted drastically over the last decade. Our work contributes to the long-term conservation and recovery of the southernmost range of 3 critically endangered and 2 endangered Vulture species populations in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. We are active members of South African National Vulture Task Force and work closely with the provincial conservation authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. We are key members of Project Vulture KZN, helping to protect vultures in KwaZulu-Natal, as guided by the Multi-Species Action Plan to conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP).

Our data also shows severe declines of LFV and WHV breeding pairs over the last 5 years, which will eminently lead to local extinction. Project Vulture KZN contributes to a better understanding of vulture movements, habits, habitats and threats; this monitoring helps us to know where to focus our conservation efforts. We will continue to address these knowledge gaps to better inform conservation action and eliminate threats more effectively.

Support the Rhino Peak Challenge and our Vulture Conservation Programme. To carry out sustainable conservation measures to improve the status of these endangered species, we must, 1) Understand threats, improve management intervention and evaluate success; 2) Stop the decline through reactive poison response; and 3) enable the recovery through promoting vulture safe zones for birds to forage, roost and nest, as well as maintaining reliable safe feeding sources. By actively promoting the stabilisation of populations, the ecosystem service that vultures provide by disposing of rotting material is promoted and thus also the health of KZN’s human population.

Over the past 13 years, we have effectively and continuously supported conservation in and around protected areas across Africa. Wildlife ACT is well placed to implement this project because of its established track record in the following areas:

  • Priority and endangered species conservation with a substantial focus on vultures. Wildlife ACT has an ongoing team of wildlife monitors that obtain field data on endangered/priority species, including vultures. Our work also includes the immediate reporting of snaring, injuries, poisoning and other threats.
  • We're active members of the South African National Vulture Task Force.
  • Reliable, committed, and professional wildlife monitoring and research, guiding conservation management.
  • Identifying the areas and associated threats that pose the highest risk to endangered species inside and outside protected areas, allowing limited resources to be efficiently allocated to the high priority areas.
  • Responding to and rescuing wildlife from poaching incidents or breakouts from protected areas, and aiding in rapid conflict mitigation in and outside of protected areas.
  • Chris Kelly, the project lead, is a member of the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group.
  • Community involvement and education through our Community Conservation Programme, including the establishment of a network of Conservation Ambassadors who live within communities adjacent to PAs.
  • Improving tolerance between human populations and endangered species, by responding swiftly and effectively to community requests through our Human Wildlife Coexistence Programme.
African Crane Conservation Programme +

The Southern Drakensberg is one of the few places in South Africa where one can see all three of South Africa’s crane species in one day and is the stronghold for South Africa’s endangered Grey Crowned Cranes.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) have been working intensively in the area since 2012. Much of the work has been focussed on conserving crane habitat and to date the EWT in partnership with landowners and the provincial agencies, have secured almost 20 000 ha of habitat through the declaration of Nature Reserves and Protected Environments in the area – thus creating safe space for cranes to thrive.

Some of the conservation in action includes the colour ringing of cranes in order to monitor uniquely marked birds over time to understand survival, movement and breeding biology and also to work with farmers on managing habitat for cranes and minimising threats because together we can and have made a difference.

In order to understand how well cranes are doing – considering all three species are threatened, the EWT and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife conduct annual aerial counts of cranes to verify that our conservation efforts have an impact.

We are pleased to see increases in all three of our crane populations in the Drakensberg, your support means that we can intensify our efforts and ensure that Grey Crowned , Blue and Wattled Cranes grace the Southern Drakensberg skies for ever.

2021 Leaderboard
1
Gareth Stobie
Raised: ZAR 41,626.89
2
Lauren Canham
Raised: ZAR 30,200.00
3
Craig Charity
Raised: ZAR 30,100.00
4
Trevor Wilkinson
Raised: ZAR 28,800.00
5
TEAM We Run for Wildlife:
Tami Alves and Lindy Swales

Raised: ZAR 23,000.00
6
Alexander Babich
Raised: ZAR 22,560.00
7
Katherine De Groot
Raised: ZAR 21,700.00
8
Rod Spencer
Raised: ZAR 20,824.00
9
Jacques Maré
Raised: ZAR 14,100.00
10
Team EWT:
Cobus Theron, JP le Roux, Cole du Plessis and Tammy Baker

Raised: ZAR 13,555.00