Conserving Species by Empowering the Heroes and Sheroes of the Planet

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Species-in-Hiding in Paraguay
Beginning in the 1980’s conservation biologists and governmental agencies of Paraguay began
working together to conduct biological surveys throughout the country. Yet many remote regions of the country were never surveyed. Recently, surveys in adjacent countries have revealed a far greater diversity of species than expected, indicating that Paraguay may also have many more wildlife species than expected in these remote regions. Francisco Adolfo Brusquetti Estrada is surveying amphibians in regions that were over-looked in past surveys. His work will provide baseline data that will be used for monitoring amphibian populations and diversity in the future. Francisco needs a stereomicroscope for the survey. It will be donated to the Biological Research Institute of Paraguay for use by other researchers and students. Results will be published in scientific journals and rProject Cost: $400
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Web of Death
Most wildlife biologists are focused on the complex web of life, but not Bishnu Prasad Shrestha. He has spent that last few years witnessing a bizarre web of death. It began in northern India and southern Nepal, where cattle ranching is common. Old or injured cows were often given the anti-inflammatory pain medication Diclofenac. When the animals died, they were left for the vultures
to eat, as they always have been. The drug, which had accumulated in the cattle carcasses caused renal failure, and ultimately death, in the vultures. By 2004, tens of millions of vultures were dead from this poisoning, representing a staggering 94 percent of the vulture population on the Indian subcontinent. By 2008, the number was 99.9 percent. But this isn’t the end of the story. The lack of vultures led to a massive increase in the available food, which produced a population explosion in feral dogs and rats. In turn the rates of disease in humans has sky-rocketed in some areas, with an estimated 50,000 human deaths from rabies attributed to the feral dog increase. Bishnu is determined to help stop this web of death. He has initiated a vulture conservation awareness project in Rampur Valley, an Important Bird Area, in Nepal. The Rampur Valley is thinly populated by ranching and farming families, with little access to education. Although the drug Diclofenac has been outlawed for use in cattle by the Indian government, most communities in rural Nepal are not aware of the hazards of this commonly used drug. Bishnu will use many strategies to educate local farmers and other community members about the situation, including
giving multi-media presentations about vulture conservation and the associated community-wide benefits and informing farmers of alternative drugs that will not harm vultures. He will also relay this information by distributing booklets, talking on radio programs, establishing a conservation board in the valley, showing vulture documentaries, and encouraging people to deposit non-
drugged carcasses near existing vulture populations. Awareness will be created among school children through a new conservation education curriculum in the schools; the distribution of educational booklets for students; conservation essays, quizzes, and art projects; field trips to a vulture colony; the formation of a nature club; and a vulture article in the local children’s magazine. Bishnu needs a multi-media projector, a refurbished laptop computer, binoculars, and
a GPS for the project. When not in use, the equipment will be available for use by faculty and students at the Institute of Forestry in Pokhara, Nepal. Rarely does one small project have the potential to impact so many lives…and break the chain of pain.
Project Cost: $860

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