World Pangolin Day 2017

© Jeremy Holden

© Jeremy Holden

This Saturday we are celebrating the 6th annual World Pangolin Day! Pangolins are the most trafficked mammal in the world, with conservative estimates suggesting that at least 10,000 pangolins are trafficked each year. Despite this conservation crisis, most people have never even heard of them. These shy animals don't get the same media coverage that some larger mammals get, and World Pangolin Day was created to raise awareness and support for pangolin conservation. 

The critically endangered Sunda pangolin is a scaly mammal that eats ants and termites and hides in dense forest. They are rarely observed in the wild due to their secretive and solitary habits. Slow moving and lacking teeth, their primary defense is curling up into a ball, making them easy targets for poachers. With over one million trafficked in the past decade, these once common animals are now on the brink of extinction and are classified as critically endangered. In China and Vietnam, their meat is considered a delicacy and is sold for $350 per kg; their scales are used as fashion accessories and in traditional medicine, and can be worth up to $1,000 per kg. 

Wildlife Alliance has been working since 2001 to end the trade of wildlife in Cambodia and throughout Southeast Asia. Since then, over 350 pangolins and 62,000 other animals have been rescued. However, the international demand remains high and the plight of the pangolin remains a pressing issue, we are on the verge of losing this timid and gentle species forever. 

This year, you can make a difference by helping our forest rangers prevent pangolins from being taken from their natural habitat. We are also offering our supporters the special opportunity to name our new rescued male pangolin who is being cared for at Wildlife Rescue Station! For the month of February, anyone who sponsors our rescued Sunda pangolin, Lucy, or donates over $100 will be entered into a drawing to name the new arrival! 

Celebrate World Pangolin Day with us by getting the word out about the plight of the pangolin. We’ll be sharing some pangolin pictures and stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that you can share and repost to help us raise awareness and get #WorldPangolinDay trending!

Chhouk, the Elephant, Receives a New Prosthetic Foot

Chhouk, our young disabled male elephant, recently received a new prosthetic foot. At ten years old, Chhouk continues to grow quickly and is going through prosthetics just as fast! Late last year, the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics (CSPO) fitted Chhouk and made him a new shoe. The new design is lighter, stronger, and quicker for our staff to change. The new shoe quickly got Chhouk’s approval and he was running around his enclosure within minutes of trying on the new shoe! 

Chhouk was found in 2007, at less than a year old, wandering alone in the forest in Northeast Cambodia. He had not only lost his foot to a poacher’s snare, but he was also gravely ill from the infected wound and severely malnourished. To gain his trust, our rescuers cared for him in the forest for two weeks before transporting him to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center where specialists were able to heal his wounds. Unfortunately, Chhouk’s lower leg had to be amputated but was replaced by a prosthesis from CSPO, which has changed his life completely. Our elephant keepers have trained Chhouk using only reward based positive reinforcement in order to effectively change his prosthetic leg. He is the first elephant in Cambodia to receive a prosthesis and is celebrated as a successful rescue story. Asian elephants are nearly full size at 15 years old, but continue to grow in size and weight until they are around 20-25 years old! At this rate, Chhouk will continue to outgrow his prosthetic legs, but thanks to the diligence of his keepers and CSPO, Chhouk won’t let his disability slow him down! 

You can help care for Chhouk and ensure he continues to get new prosthetic legs as he needs them by sponsoring him monthly!

New Carbon Credit Deal will Protect the Southern Cardamom Rainforest

Wildlife Alliance and the Cambodian Ministry of Environment recently signed an agreement to develop and implement Cambodia’s largest REDD+ program in the Southern Cardamom National Park and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary. The goal of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is to contribute to climate change mitigation actions by attaching value to standing forests through carbon credits. Deforestation and forest degradation is one of the leading causes of climate change, responsible for ~15% of greenhouse gas emissions. In order to effectively and sustainably combat climate change, large forests must be protected from deforestation. In addition to being one of the leading causes of climate change, deforestation also leads to flooding, soil erosion, and habitat loss for the world’s biodiversity. This new REDD+ project will generate sustainable financial support to protect 500,000 hectares of the Cardamom Rainforest Landscape. The Cardamom Rainforest is worth more standing than cultivated as it is one of the largest and most biodiverse rainforests in Southeast Asia. 

Under the new REDD+ project, the Cambodian Government will be able to sell carbon credits from the Southern Cardamom landscape. The revenue will finance the long-term protection of the landscape and support sustainable local livelihoods and rural communities. “REDD+ in the Cardamom landscape will be the third effort in establishing sustainable financing support for the protection and conservation of forests in Cambodia. It proves that Cambodia is ready for performance based payment in climate change mitigation framework,” said H.E. Say Samal, Minister of Environment. Brian Williams, Regional Director of Asia for Wildlife Works, commented that the project has the potential to “position Cambodia as a global leader in REDD+.” Wildlife Works is one of the world’s leading carbon project developers.

It will take two years before Cambodia is able to start selling carbon credits for the Southern Cardamom Rainforest, so make a donation to help the Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program rangers continue to protect this critical landscape.

Snaring Crisis is Driving Asia’s Wildlife to Extinction

Driven by unsustainable levels of commercial hunting, Southeast Asia’s wildlife is facing an “extinction crisis” according to a recent article published in the journal Science, co-authored by Wildlife Alliance’s Thomas Gray. The principal hunting method used in Southeast Asia is cheap, homemade wire snares. These snares are made out of materials such as bicycle brake cables. An individual hunter can set as many as 500 in a day. Snares are particularly harmful to biodiversity because they indiscriminately trap any species, including those that are endangered. Poachers and hunters who set these traps are rarely caught in the act because the snare can be left for days before hunters return to check their traps. Wildlife Alliance’s rangers continue to confiscate an increasing number of snares each year (from 14,634 in 2010 to 27,714 in 2015), but the number of set snares also continues to increase due to their low cost and low risk nature. The only way to stop this crisis is to increase penalties for individuals who possess snares and snare materials in protected forests. 

Donate today to help the Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program rangers continue to remove  deadly snares from one of Asia’s most vital forests.