CEO Review of the Year
From CEO, Oliver Smith
Although I have been in post for not much more than a month, I am beginning to understand the dedication of the small team at the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation. What we achieve with five full time and five part-time staff, a host of volunteers and you, our loyal donors, is quite remarkable.
2016 was a year of exciting firsts including the introduction of two new programmes; one to help protect pangolins in Zambia, now the world’s most trafficked mammal and the second to create a new reserve for snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan. We also helped to renovate and expand the park protection office in Thailand, increased capacity for the anti-poaching dog squad unit in Assam and funded a two year research programme into lion populations in two of Uganda’s key wildlife areas. Generous funding from Vulcan also allowed us to send a delegation to the seventeenth conference of parties to CITES in Johannesburg in September.
This key event, established to regulate the trade in endangered species, helps turn a much needed media spotlight onto the plight of the world’s wildlife. With a particular focus on elephants, DSWF attended the conference to support the African Elephant Coalition and its set of five proposals designed to bring about an end to the trade in ivory and deliver lasting protection for elephants. While there were some key gains the call to give elephants the highest level of protection was, disappointingly, lost by just nine votes. The news was better for pangolins with all eight species being placed onto Appendix I – the highest level of international protection – and the proposal on a renewed trade in rhino horn was conclusively defeated. For tigers the big news was that Laos is now seeking expert help to close its tiger breeding facilities and that not one delegate supported China’s proposal to remove the issue of tiger breeding from the CITES agenda.
We continued our push for an end to the ivory trade when we contributed to a debate in Parliament on the ongoing Ivory Trade in the UK in December, and we hope to advance this work in 2017 and to persuade the government to fulfil their manifesto pledge to introduce a complete ban.
While 182 countries discussed the fate of endangered species at CITES in Johannesburg, a thousand miles north the team that we support in Zambia were pushed to the limit with a quick succession of five rescue call outs for orphaned elephants. Despite their best efforts not all of the calves survived. For those that did – Njanji, Kakaro and Kasewe – they now have a second chance of life and will require our support for at least the next nine years before they are ready to be released back into the wild.
The innocent victims of poachers and the syndicates that drive them, these calves are just a tiny fraction of the sad by-product of the £18billion industry that is wildlife crime. After years of investigation into two Vietnamese brothers, said to be the kingpins of an international wildlife crime syndicate, we were delighted to see them exposed in The Guardian newspaper in September and hope that further action will be taken against them and their criminal associates.
Closer to home, it’s been a busy year operationally as we integrated a new database, refreshed the look and feel of the brand and prepared two new websites for launch in 2017. As well as being timely, these changes are designed to help make us be more efficient and customer friendly and we hope that the results of our labour will bear fruit in 2017 and beyond. We’re very excited with our website and look forward to your comments when we launch in January.
Despite the many challenges faced by wildlife we are closing the year on a really positive note. As well as a wonderful donor offering to match your donations to support our work this winter – making every donation go even further – we have also been able to provide funding to help resolve a major threat to tiger conservation in Russia.
A new, one-off grant will help to dismantle abandoned logging roads which currently allow uncontrolled access into prime tiger territory in Terney County and also to clear typhoon damaged roads in Primorsky krai to restore access to guarding posts and patrol routes within the reserve. We look forward to bringing you updates on this important project throughout 2017.
Thank you again for your amazing support for the work we do to protect endangered wildlife and to bring an end to wildlife crime. As we head into 2017 we are all committed to redoubling our efforts to protect the precious wildlife of our fragile planet; we thank you for all of your support in 2016 and hope that your generosity will continue throughout 2017. We can only carry on our vital work with your support.
This is just a taster of our work in 2016 – to receive regular updates of our work and our bi-annual supporter magazine, Wildlife Matters, please email your contact details to [email protected]