News from the Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance, Clouded Leopard Working group and the African Golden Cat Conservation Alliance.
Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance
Fishing cat conservation in the western Terai Arc
by Ganesh Puri, Nepal
I am excited to share with you a significant new initiative I'm embarking on for the sustainable conservation of Fishing cats. This initiative will take place in Buddhabhumi Kapilvastu, where I continue to work on fishing cat conservation with the Fishing Cat Guardian Club.
Buddhabhumi Kapilvastu is a village inhabited entirely by Tharu communities, an indigenous ethnic group primarily located in the Terai region of Nepal. These people rely heavily on fishing and the forest for their livelihoods. They are often referred to as "Fish people." Both men and women in this community engage in fishing, with women being especially active in forest and fishing related activities. The Tharu people have a rich cultural heritage and unique language, and they share a close connection with the Fishing cat.
Notably, Tharu women are skilled in crafting various products, especially using natural resources from the forest such as grasses. Their handcrafted items are known for their beauty and durability and have gained attention beyond their community. To collectively promote their crafts, these women formed the "Hariyali Handicraft Group."
Representing the Western Terai Fishing Cat Conservation Project, I have established an agreement with the Hariyali Handicraft Group to involve them in Fishing cat conservation efforts. The agreement is as follows:
(1) The Hariyali Handicraft Group will allocate 5% of their total income derived from handicraft sales for Fishing cat conservation.
(2) Simultaneously, the Western Terai Fishing Cat Conservation Project commits to matching this contribution by adding an equivalent amount to a dedicated fund. These combined funds will be utilized for various Fishing cat conservation activities, which will be coordinated with our project.
(3) The collected funds will be reinvested within their community to support initiatives such as chicken coop maintenance and compensation for chicken losses, a significant issue we know how to solve.
(4) Additionally, within their community, there is a Fishing Cat Guardian Club we established. This club is comprised of children of the women involved in handicraft making. The funds will also be allocated to support and motivate these Guardian Club members in Fishing cat conservation efforts.
Our collaboration creates a profound and lasting change in the lives of the Tharu community. Our program will not only provide essential livelihood support but also serve as a source of motivation for Fshing cat and really all wildlife conservation. This initiative is a sustainable solution for mitigating human-Fishing cat conflicts.
I thank all our financial partners for generously supporting our efforts.
Clouded Leopard Working Group
Community outreach and school youth-camps in clouded leopard habitats of Himalayan foothills
by Ganga Ram Regmi, Nepal
By engaging local communities and school students who share the same landscapes as the Clouded leopard and other small wild cats, the Clouded Leopard Working Group expanded its conservation network. This year, our initiatives took various forms to spread awareness among rural people residing in proximity to Clouded leopard habitats. Street rallies, drawing competitions, and Clouded leopard conservation classes including other small wild cats were conducted across four distinct locations: Kaski, Dolakha, Ilam and Sankhuwasabha districts of the Himalayan foothills. During the lively street rallies, we were joined by as many as 500 individuals. Their participation showed their commitment to Clouded leopard conservation.
To connect with the young minds of our future, we organized drawing competitions that included no less than 150 students. They channeled their creativity to translate fresh knowledge into artwork that conveyed the essence of conservation. For our Clouded leopard presentations, 100 attentive listeners were present. Upon evaluating their knowledge after these awareness initiatives, we observed a remarkable transformation in their understanding and attitude towards the Clouded leopard. We also published 1000 copies of a Clouded leopard information and conservation booklet titled "INSPIRATION" and distributed booklets to the communities and school kids. We received the following feedback from one of the high-school students of Ilam district in eastern Nepal:
"I was completely unaware of the existence of the Clouded leopard. All I heard from my parents were stories of our cattle being eaten by Leopards. Today, thanks to this book, I've gained a deep understanding of the Clouded leopard, importance of improving our goat corral to save our goats from Leopards, and have learned the importance of coexisting with these magnificent creatures."
African Golden Cat Conservation Alliance
Community-based conservation mitigates threats to African golden cats, Minziro Nature Forest Reserve
by Emanual Martin, Tanzania
The African golden cat (AGC) was first confirmed in Tanzania in 2018 at Minziro Nature Forest Reserve. Minziro is a transboundary forest straddling the Uganda–Tanzania border, where the AGC is threatened by widespread human activity including bush-meat poaching, wildfires, logging, and cattle incursion. Enabled by a grant from the Mohammed Zayed Species Conservation Fund, we engaged local communities from the eight villages adjacent to Minziro to implement conservation actions.
The project employed a three-pronged approach: 1) Raising local community awareness about AGC in Minziro; 2) Identifying and designing community-based threat reduction conservation initiatives; and 3) Facilitating trans-boundary conservation for the AGC with our Ugandan counterparts at the trans-frontier Sango Bay Central Forest Reserve.
In cooperation with Natural Resources and Environmental Committees, we presented our awareness program on AGC and threats it faces in eight villages involving 112 locals . In addition, through local radio stations, newspapers and social media over 500,000 people were reached. We also engaged 1033 school children of which 741 children were from seven primary schools and 292 children were from three secondary schools all from Missenyi District, Kagera Tanzania.
To mitigate the threat due to habitat loss, the villagers proposed the following projects: i) establishing tree nurseries to reduce dependency of locals on Minziro for firewood and building materials; ii) Establishing smallholder livestock husbandry targeting poor or marginalized families to mitigate two key drivers of bush-meat hunting for food and money. We engaged our Ugandan counterparts in workshops to devise trans-boundary conservation collaboration for the AGC. We continue to implement and engage local communities in AGC conservation at Minziro.
African Golden Cat Conservation Alliance