March 2013 Newsletter
Wildlife Alliance Rescues Two Malayan Sun Bears From Garment Factory
On February 14, 2013, Wildlife Alliance responded to an urgent tip that two rare Malayan sun bears were being held captive in an abandoned garment factory in Kandal province. The Singaporean-owned Yung Wah, a clothing supplier to retailer Gap, was facing a massive 1,000+ worker protest as its owners fled the country without compensating their employees. Undeterred by the massive gathering, Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team infiltrated the factory after a two-hour standoff with employees and seized the bears that were being held in purpose-built cages, suffering from severe malnutrition. It is believed that the bears had been held captive at the factory for the last ten years.
After administering tranquilizers, Wildlife Alliance staff was able to extract the bears from the cages and transport them safely to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. The sun bears are currently receiving veterinary care and are hoped to be prime candidates for rehabilitation and re-wilding into Wildlife Alliance's protected rainforest project area in the Southern Cardamoms.
Malayan sun bears are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are a constant target in the illegal wildlife trade for their much sought-after meats, gallbladders and paws, which are used in traditional Asian medicine. Wildlife Alliance has been on the ground in Southeast Asia since 2001, saving sun bears and other endangered species from illegal wildlife trafficking. With over 53,000 animals rescued, Wildlife Alliance has been a leader in the fight against wildlife trade, resulting in a reduction of 75% in wildlife trafficking country-wide, and a 90% decrease in wildlife sales in Phnom Penh restaurants. To help in our efforts to curb the illegal wildlife trade, visit our donation page and choose Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team from the dropdown menu.
Last week saw the conclusion of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). This two week inter-governmental negotiation on the regulation of trade in wild animals and plants ended with new measures taken to protect sharks, manta rays, tropical hardwoods and 340 other threatened species. While we welcome these new regulations, it is important to stress that the survival of threatened species depends on the implementation and enforcement of these laws. This has become especially evident with the implementation of the international ban on ivory. Legal loopholes surrounding the ban has led to crisis levels of elephant poaching over the past six years. It is estimated that last year alone 25,000 elephants were slaughtered in Africa by criminal gangs.
Legal carving industries in Thailand and China, and the anonymity of the business conducted over the Internet has allowed this unscrupulous trade to thrive with little oversight. INTERPOL released reports identifying the online ivory trade to be worth millions, and it is estimated to represent a total volume of around 4,500kg of ivory. As if to echo the weakness of the international community’s resolve to end the ivory trade, it was reported by Reuters on Tuesday, March 19th, just days after the CITES conference, that poachers in the African country of Chad had killed at least 86 elephants, including 33 pregnant females and 15 calves. These poachers were armed with automatic weapons and carried out coordinated attacks on herds of elephants. The increasingly sophisticated and large scale massacres show that wildlife trafficking is a growing criminal enterprise connected with terrorism, and is undermining governments, rule of law and growth of local communities.
Wildlife Alliance believes, now more than ever, that direct action is required to hinder this horrendous trade. Through ground patrols and direct protection, Wildlife Alliance has reduced elephant poaching in Cambodia by 98%. 37 elephants and 12 tigers were reported killed in the 18 months preceding the implementation of our Forest Protection Program in 2002—only 4 elephants are known to have been killed since and there are no known reports of tiger killings. In these critical times, law enforcement and immediate action is absolutely necessary to save these animals from extinction. Join Wildlife Alliance in putting an end to the illegal trade by visiting our donation page and choosing Forest Protection.
Celebrating International Women’s Day
March 8th commemorated the 103rd International Women’s Day. Wildlife Alliance understands that women are central to the development of rural areas and to national progress. Empowering women and giving them access to rights, land and opportunities is vital to ending hunger and poverty, and improving prospects for future generations.
According to the 2010 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (CDHS), women who earn more than their husbands are more likely to decide how their cash earnings are used, than women who earn the same or less than their husbands. Cambodian women own significantly less agricultural land than their male counterparts, with a national average of only 15%. At Wildlife Alliance we support the work of women. By helping them increase their earning power, we are giving them a voice both within their families as well as in the community.
The Tropical ReforestationProject, which aims to reconnect fragmented forest cover in the Southern Cardamom Mountains, employs primarily women workers to work in our nursery and care for the saplings year-round. At our Community-Based Ecotourism Project in Chi Phat, the most successful guest houses in this community are run by women. Women who have joined the project and participated in its activities have seen their family’s income grow exponentially. In the rural Cambodian village of Sovanna Baitong, where Wildlife Alliance’s Community Agriculture Development Project is located, women hold the majority of the leadership positions in the community. Of the 10 senior positions on the Agriculture Association – the body of community members that manages life in the village – 7 are held by women. This is quite remarkable, as according to the Cambodian National Institute of Statistics, the national average for women in managerial positions is only 9%. Women in Sovanna Baitong run groups like the Marketing Group, which sets prices for village goods in local markets; the Credit Group, which manages the Community Fund and loans to villagers; and the Education Group, which oversees educational facilities and curricula in the community. Many of the major mechanisms of village society are in the hands of these women. Furthermore, with the increased educational opportunities available to children in Sovanna Baitong, the next generation of women is being groomed for leadership.
Join us in congratulating these remarkable women for the vital work they do and for proving that women from all backgrounds can become true leaders. To help us continue to empower women in rural Cambodia, visit our donation page and pledge your support today.
Funding Spotlight: Equipment Upgrade for Forest Rangers
The Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program patrols approximately 1.7 million acres of forest in the Southern Cardamom Mountain Range. Wildlife Alliance operates six ranger stations to protect this land. Each station is on alert 24 hours a day and is manned by twelve military police and Forestry Administration officers, along with two Wildlife Alliance advisors. They remove snares, confiscate illegal timber and chainsaws, dismantle illegal charcoal kilns, saw mills and poachers’ camps, halt illegal land encroachment, and rescue captured wildlife. This year alone, the rangers have removed 1,465 snares and confiscated 5,790 cubic meters of illegal rosewood. They are often trekking through dense forest and on unknown stretches of river in the search for illegal loggers and dangerous wildlife poachers; it is absolutely vital for them to have up-to-date and accurate equipment. With a gift of $2,500, you can upgrade field equipment for a station’s entire team! Help these rangers continue to protect the Southern Cardamom Mountain Range and its wildlife, by visiting our donation page and selecting Forest Protection from the dropdown menu.