Category Archives: WCFF

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in China

The WCFF recently returned from a two week trip to China where this unique film festival participated in the first Dali International Film Festival. The WCFF was invited by the Yunnan Tourism Group, Wild China and National Geographic. WCFF provided exceptional award winning content and both participated and hosted panel discussions. Discussions ranged from specific species, ecosystems, filming techniques and wildlife crime.

Long term partnerships have been established between the WCFF, Dali international Film Festival, Wild China Films and National Geographic. In discussion are future feature film projects in China, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia, a potential series and the establishment of the WCFF education outreach program in China.

WCFF hosted film screenings over the course of ten days to over a thousand students representing Dali University, Yunnan Arts University, Kunming University of Science and Technology and Ocean University of China. Students and faculty from these institutions of higher learning were Informed, Engaged and Inspired via the power of film  through the WCFF screenings and panel discussions.

WCFF will return to China in 2018 for more programs in Dali and Beijing. We are ever so grateful to our generous hosts that include: Yunnan Tourism Group, National Geographic, Wild China Films, CCTV, Dali Art House, NatGeoWild and the many volunteers, participants and friends made during our stay.

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018 | New York, NY
http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: @wcff_org
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

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Papua New Guinea gets its largest-ever conservation area

Papua New Guinea has been granted its largest-ever conservation area, a 1,390-square mile protected area of rainforest, nearly 900,000 acres. The newly formed Managalas Conservation Area is home to the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo and cassowary among thousands of other species.

Papua New Guinea has been granted its largest-ever conservation area, a 3,600-square kilometer (1,390-square mile) protected area of rainforest in the country’s southeast that stretches from near the ocean up into the mountains. Called Managalas Conservation Area, the move is being celebrated by conservation organizations and local communities that have been working for 32 years to establish more protections for the region. Managalas Conservation Area was officially declared on November 29 by Minister for Environment and Climate John Pundari and Northern Governor Gary Juffa at Itokama village. “Without environment, and without you and I, we will never enjoy the blessings of life,” said Pundari, as reported by PNG’s Post-Courier. “If we lose [the environment], we lose ourselves and that is also a global message.” Local communities held a party following the announcement to celebrate the declaration, the culmination of their decades of work towards protection of their forests. Minister for Environment and Climate John Pundari and Beate Gabrielsen from  the Norwegian Embassy at the declaration ceremony.

The region, called the Managalas Plateau, still has expansive tracts of primary forest. But it has been increasingly eyed by extractive industries like logging and mining, according to Rainforest Foundation Norway (RFN), which is supporting conservation activities in the region. Industrial agriculture is also a big threat, with several areas of the plateau suitable for oil palm plantations.

Read more: http://www.envirolink.org/2017/12/08/papua-new-guinea-gets-its-largest-ever-conservation-area/

Huon Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus matschiei) female and joey peer over branch. Endangered species from the Huon Peninsula, Papua New Guinea.

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018 | New York, NY
http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: @wcff_org
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

 

Cambodia’s plan to reintroduce tigers

The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is one of the six living tiger subspecies, and is found in Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and southwestern China.

The total population is less than 325 individuals in the wild. The largest population unit survives in Thailand estimated at 175 to 200 individuals. There are 75 individuals in Myanmar, and only 20 Indochinese tigers remain in Vietnam. The last tiger seen in China was 2009 in the Yunnan province.

As recently as 1999, Cambodia was home to one of the world’s largest tiger populations. Within a decade, the big cats had been eliminated from the country due to poaching and habitat loss. The last  Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) was captured by camera trap roaming the lush Mondulkiri Province in the country’s east in 2007. Nearly 11 years later, none have been seen.

The Cambodian government is looking to change that. The Ministry of Environment announced in late September that it is moving forward with a plan, along with the WWF, to reintroduce tigers to Cambodia — a scheme that has drawn criticism from wildlife experts across the globe due to weak rule of law, rampant poaching and the destruction of Cambodia’s environment through illegal logging and other practices

However are there are a number of conservation organizations and scientists that feel now is not the right time to launch this program in Cambodia.

To read more visit: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/11/is-cambodias-plan-to-reintroduce-tigers-doomed-to-fail/?n3wsletter&utm_source=Mongabay+Newsletter&utm_campaign=1868686cdf-newsletter_2017_11_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_940652e1f4-1868686cdf-67233543

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018
http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: @wcff_org
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Grizzly Bear Populations may soon combine

The grizzly bear population in Yellowstone National park number over 750 individuals. Male bears are moving north to expand their range and could meet up with members of their species around Glacier National Park within ten years or less. The distance between the two parks is 410 miles and their are a number of National Forests connecting the two parks as a wildlife corridor.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/science/grizzly-bears-yellowstone-genes.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fscience&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=8&pgtype=sectionfront

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Christopher@WCFF.org

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018
http://www.WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Instagram: @wcff_org
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

New Species of Great Ape Confirmed

A new and third species of orangutan has been confirmed by genetic testing,  nearly 90 years after scientists first heard rumors of its existence.

A study indicates what was once assumed to be an isolated population of the Sumatran orangutan is in fact a distinct species.
The Batang Toru orangutan in western Sumatra differs from the Sumatran orangutan in morphology, behavior and genetics. Genomic analysis suggests it diverged from other orangutan species 3.4 million years ago.
There are fewer than 800 Batang Toru orangutans in existence, making it one of the rarest of all the great apes.

For additional reading visit: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/newly-discovered-orangutan-species-is-also-the-most-endangered/

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
October 18-28, 2018
http://www.WCFF.org

Christopher J. Gervais, F.R.G.S.
Christopher@WCFF.org
Facebook.com/WCFForg
Twitter: @WCFF_org
Twitter: @CJGERVAIS
Instagram: @wcff_org
Vimeo.com/wcff
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

Elephants in the Coffee

The Asian Elephant population is down to just 30,000 in its native habitat of India and southeast Asia. The primary threat for this species is loss of habitat.

This week the award winning film Elephants in the Coffee, produced by Dr. Thomas Grant and D.K. Bhaskar screens in New York, NY at the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival. For a schedule of films, speakers and to attend visit: WCFF.org

‘Elephants in the Coffee’ shows how growth of coffee plantations
​ in Southern India led to deadly conflicts between humans and elephants. For more information about this splendid

For more information about this award winning film visit: http://www.elephantsinthecoffee.com/

 

 

Do Drones Create Undue Stress in the Animals They Track?

Drone Vs. Wild

Unmanned aerial vehicles (or UAVS, better known as drones) have complex interactions with the animals they monitor. Though scientists use drones to protect animals from poachers and obtain data on threatened species, evidence suggests these flying devices take an unseen toll on the creatures they track. YouTube even boasts a multitude of videos that show chimps, eagles, lions, and rams viciously attacking UAVs. So what’s going on when drone meets beast?

In the first study of its kind, scientists measured Minnesota black bears’ physiological responses to UAVs, which flew overhead 17 times. Data from sensors previously implanted in the bears revealed that in nearly all trials the animals’ heart rates significantly increased, though few behavioral reactions were noted. In the most extreme case, sensors recorded a 400% spike in one bear’s heart rate, from 39 to 162 beats per minute. University of Minnesota study leader Mark Ditmer found the results somewhat surprising, as bears in this region commonly hear loud noises from farm equipment and nearby traffic. “We thought they’d seen everything,” he said. Still, “Drones have different sounds and different capabilities. They can fly under the forest canopy, they can get very close, and even follow an individual.”

drone-called-maker.jpg

Photo: Andy Cush

David Wilkie, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s director of Conservation Support, hesitated to read too much into the findings without further research on drone-wildlife interactions, noting: “Heart rate is really an indication of arousal, a natural reaction. All animals get aroused when there’s an unfamiliar sound. It’s about vigilance, not necessarily stress.” He called for a study to measure the amount of stress hormone cortisol found in animals’ feces after UAV flight trials. Ditmer conceded that, though wild species may habituate to UAVs just as they have to highways and other manmade noises, the potentially chronic stress from constant close-up drones could have unknown consequences, even impacting bears’ success in reproducing and finding food, as well as weakening their immune systems. “If you have an endangered species or animals sensitive to human interference, we could push them beyond a threshold,” he said.

More Good Than Harm?

The key may be to test individual species’ reactions to UAVs before implementing long-term drone surveillance on them, ensuring the benefits (e.g. protecting them from poachers and obtaining insightful data) to that group always outweigh any stress inflicted. In science journal Current Biology, Australian researchers Jarrod Hodgson and Lian Pin Koh agree that “It is likely that animal responses vary depending on a variety of factors, including the species, environmental and historical context, and the type of UAV and its method of operation.” The duo outline some best practice guidelines they hope will both public and private sectors will implement to minimize stressful drone-animal interactions. For instance, Hodgson and Koh recommend that researchers choose drone models that are unobtrusive and even camouflaged, that they consider obtaining data via satellite images or manned aircraft before deploying drones, and that any negative animal responses should be shared in published studies. With these suggestions, they seek  to define drones as “a powerful, low-impact ecological survey tool” that can harvest key data on threatened populations within acting in ways that could threaten them further.

drones.ngsversion.1440434055226.adapt.1190.1.jpg

Photo: Mike Tuziw, Alamy

Clearly-defined legislation can serve to insulate wild animals from drone hobbyists, who may have no qualms about flying drones right up to wildlife for the sake of a good photo. Currently, Canadian law bans all drones within 150 meters of wild animals, while the US National Park Service prohibits drones from flying over protected land so that animal inhabitants will remain undisturbed. Wilkie noted that, after lawmakers and researchers lay out what constitutes appropriate drone behavior around wild animals, UAVS will  have “enormous potential that we’ve barely begun to tap,” and Hodgson and Koh too are optimistic. “In our experience, the vast majority of UAV users, both biologists and hobbyists, do not want to disturb wildlife and will often seek advice from experts,” Hodgson said. “By promoting an awareness of the potential for UAVs to impact wildlife, we hope that users will be more conscious of the potential impacts and utilize the code to ensure their UAV operations are responsible.” If their consequences on animal physiology are properly researched and shared amongst the scientific community, who knows the vitally important data that drones could secure on threatened wildlife species, even possibly helping them escape extinction?

-Shannon Cuthbert

Sources:

https://phys.org/news/2016-05-minimize-drone-impact-wildlife.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150825-drones-animals-wildlife-bears-science-technology/

http://500below.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-drones-and-wild-animals/