Wildlife Hotline Raising the Heat on Traders

The Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) was extremely successful in the second quarter of 2017, doubling the number of live animals rescued and released and doubling the amount of wildlife meat confiscated from the first quarter of the year. Since its development in 2001, the WRRT has intercepted up to 75% of illegal wildlife trade in Cambodia. These operations have amassed to the rescue of around 70,000 live animals and the confiscation of over 30 tons of wildlife products. The team is tirelessly working to protect animals from becoming pets, trophies, clothing, and medicine. Traders are now aware that imprisonment and hefty fines are likely consequences of their illegal profession and that they should seriously reconsider their actions, especially if they plan on exploiting endangered species, as the trading of endangered animals results in the maximum fine and possible imprisonment.

The WRRT does not only focus on the first stages of wildlife trade, but infiltrates every party on the supply chain, from poachers to buyers. In June, the WRRT was informed of suspected wildlife meat being stored in a cooler outside of a restaurant. While there was little wildlife meat for sale in the restaurant, the WRRT continued to search around the neighboring land for anything incriminating. This determined search led to the discovery of two black bear legs. With the declining population of Asiatic black bears and their official classification as Endangered, the WRRT imposed the maximum fine of $17,750 and advocated for a prison sentence for the restaurant owner.

Another successful operation that stemmed from the help of an informant took place at a trader’s home located between Kratie and Stung Treng. After receiving a tip of a possible location of illegal activity, the WRRT raided the suspect’s house and caught him in the act of cutting up wildlife meat to add to his 150 kg collection of wild pig, sambar, muntjac, and monitor lizard meat. The trader was arrested and fined $1,764. These two cases are examples of the many operations the WRRT executed in recent months that owe their success to the Wildlife Alliance Wildlife Hotline. The hotline allows civilians and WRRT informants to report suspicious activities that otherwise probably would not have come to light.

Please help the WRRT to continue to disrupt the illegal wildlife trade and to rescue thousands of more animals by donating to “End Wildlife Trafficking.”

The WRRT is a Forestry Administration law enforcement unit led by the Forestry Administration, in cooperation with the Military Police, with technical and financial support from Wildlife Alliance.

Wildlife Release Report: Smooth Transitions and Promising Futures

Wildlife Alliance proudly accepts all animals in need to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), no matter the size of the animal or the severity of its condition. Our primary goal is to release every animal we take in back to his or her natural habitat, although that is not always possible if his or her injuries are too severe or if there is not a suitable habitat for the animal. Unless the animal is in need of permanent care and treatment, we are constantly working to lessen their dependency on humans and helping them become fit for the wild again. When an animal is ready to be released, we often transition them to their new habitat by keeping them in a spacious forest enclosure that immerses them in the wild.

In the second quarter of this year, we released 425 animals from PTWRC and our Wildlife Rehabilitation Station. Some of the highlights were 2 slow lorises, 85 pythons, 21 long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques, 15 common palm civets, 2 leopard cats, and many more. We were especially pleased with the release process of the slow lorises. Like most of the slow lorises we have released, these two did not need a lengthy acclimatization period and were immediately able to care for themselves in the wild. They never returned for the food we continue to put out for them, but every now and then, we do spot them on camera traps so we know they are doing well.

As for future releases, we are currently preparing our sun bears to venture out on their own.  Our young male sun bear, Tela, is becoming less dependent on his surrogate mother, Sopheap. Sun bears are highly solitary animals and Tela is starting to exhibit greater independence. It should not be long before Tela feels completely comfortable being on his own and we can begin to prepare him for life in the wild. The pair of muntjac deer we have been acclimatizing for our Angkor reintroduction program had a fawn in April, and the youngster and his parents are doing well. We hope that we will soon be able to release the family either in Angkor Forest or around WRS.

Please help us continue to rehabilitate and release Cambodia’s wildlife by donating to “Care for Rescued Wildlife” on our donation page

New Eco-tourism Venture Keeps the Forest Standing

Wildlife Alliance has partnered with YAANA Ventures and Minor Group to secure an 18,000-hectare (44,500 acre) land concession within Botum Sakor National Park in the Cardamom Mountains. This area is especially important to preserve, as it is a vital migration path for elephants, but it is under threat of being destroyed from logging and slash and burn farming. By winning this concession, Wildlife Alliance and our collaborators have successfully kept the land out of the hands of loggers who out clear cut the precious forest. Instead of clear cutting the forest, Wildlife Alliance, YAANA Ventures, and the Minor Group have created the Cardamom Tented Camp to help provide the locals and nationals with an alternative way to earn money that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

The campsite consists of nine comfortable and spacious tents, each with their own bathroom and patio, which are completely powered by solar panels. The vacation spot is designed to offer visitors an opportunity to live among Cambodian wildlife, such as, Asian elephants, dholes, clouded leopards, pangolins, and much more. Guests can go on educational guided excursions through the rivers and forests. It is also a chance for them to get involved in some of the conservation work in the area, such as assisting in replanting indigenous trees or accompanying rangers on patrols to check on camera traps in the forest. This is a unique and exciting way to support Cambodia’s nature. As John Roberts, the Minor Group’s group Director of Sustainability and Conservation, said, “your stay keeps the forest standing.”

Ecotourism ventures offer locals new job opportunities and produce a reality in which saving and preserving wildlife and nature can generate steady income, as opposed to the transitory and unpredictable economy that comes with logging, poaching, and slash and burn farming. On the outskirts of the 18,000 protected hectares of the forest, logging companies have taken over the Cardamom Mountains and are leaving behind degraded and uninhabitable land. This eco-camp takes a significant stand against irresponsible and illegal deforestation, as its economic and conservation success will prove that there is a sustainable alternative that will have a local, national, and global positive outreach. The remaining percentage of profits that is not reinvested locally is given to Wildlife Alliance to maintain conservation actions and to potentially create more ecotourism endeavors in the future.

To help us continue to protect Cambodia’s forests and wildlife and provide Cambodians with a more secure future through the development of sustainable and eco-friendly jobs donate to our Community-Based Ecotourism Project. Interested in visiting this new ecotourism site? Learn more here.

Celebrating Successes on World Elephant Day

Last weekend, on August 12th, 2017, we celebrated World Elephant Day! While this is a day to raise awareness of the devastating threats this iconic species is facing, we also celebrated our conservation successes. Although elephants once roamed across most of Asia, deforestation has reduced their range to just 15% of their former habitat. The remaining forest is highly fragmented, and with few corridors to connect them, herds now survive only in small, isolated pockets, where they are extremely vulnerable. In Cambodia, it is estimated that only 300 elephants remain in the wild, and even that estimate may be generous. Although the future for elephants may look bleak, Wildlife Alliance has been involved in several conservation successes in the past year that give hope for a brighter future for elephants.

In 2016, we celebrated a decade of zero elephant poaching in the Cardamom Mountains, which is the region where Wildlife Alliance rangers are stationed. The Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program (SCFPP) was established when elephant poaching took the lives of 37 Asian elephants from the years 2000 to 2006. The predominant reason for the high number of illegal poaching was the lack of law enforcement in the area. Wildlife Alliance was determined to end poaching of a species that was already endangered and that could not afford to lose more individuals. Eleven years later, we are proud to share that our investment in forest rangers in the Cardamom Mountains has paid off with zero elephant poaching cases year after year.

While our rangers are protecting the live elephants in the Cardamom Mountains, the Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) is helping to combat the international ivory trade. For our law enforcement and for elephants around the world, December 16th, 2016, became a monumental and memorable day when Wildlife Alliance helped Cambodian Customs officers and the U.S. Embassy to uncover 1.3 tons of ivory that had been smuggled into Cambodia in a shipping crate. The shipment, which was transiting through Cambodia from Mozambique to China, was carrying 640 elephant tusks and pieces, 10 cheetah skulls, 82 kilograms of cheetah bones, and 137 kilograms of pangolin scales. Historically, Cambodia has been known as a lax transit country for smugglers; but the enormous scale of this bust in addition to the 20 other busts since 2014 are rapidly transforming Cambodia’s reputation into a country that is determined to break the chain of wildlife trade.

In another success story, earlier this year, Wildlife Alliance teamed up with World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment to save eleven wild elephants that were stuck in a bomb crater. The elephants were likely looking for water when they came across the crater, but got stuck in the thick mud and could not climb the steep walls. It was a close call for these exhausted elephants that had most likely been stranded for several days. Thankfully, a few villagers had discovered them before it was too late and had immediately called for help. Everyone present assisted in building a ramp for the elephants to walk up and in pulling the youngest elephant out using ropes. We are extremely lucky that the herd was rescued in time because a loss of eleven elephants would have been detrimental to Cambodia’s small population of only 300 elephants.

Please help us continue to make ivory busts, prevent elephant poaching, and save wild elephants in need by making a donation today