SOS Partners and grantees meet in Jeju to celebrate initial conservation successes

14 October 2012 | News story

October 15th 2012 - This September the atmosphere on the Korean island of Jeju was electric. Thousands of people from across the globe had flocked to the lush spec of volcanic rock on the south coast of the Korean peninsula to participate in the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress, 2012.  

For SOS - Save Our Species this was a perfect opportunity to bring together its Secretariat and the grantees present in Jeju to discuss and showcase some of the conservation achievements from the SOS supported projects in the field.

At one of SOS’s several events, “Saving wildlife: Yes we can!”, held on the 11th of September at the Species Pavilion, about 100 participants had the opportunity to witness seven first-hand accounts of the work funded by SOS from some of the project implementers themselves.

The event was introduced by some representatives of the SOS partners. Yoko Watanabe for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) explained why the GEF and the World Bank, founding partners of the initiative, invested in the conservation of species. Jacques Trouvilliez from the the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) also explained why his institution deemed it important to join the coalition. Dr. Jean-Christophe Vié, SOS Director, recounted the history of SOS and provided further background on the initiative.

Meeting in the Species Pavilion, representatives from seven SOS-funded projects attended to speak about their experiences and accomplishments in the field to date.

A series of seven project presentations and two videos followed, highlighting some of the successes of these projects including the first ever community-led return of a stray tiger to the wild in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh, progress with frog conservation after securing a new protected area in the Sierra Caral of Guatemala, important support for the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park in Mozambique in protecting their dugong population from anthropogenic threats and the early successes with “headstarting” for the Spoon-billed Sandpiper in the Siberian Tundra of eastern Russia.

Addressing a full room from the dais, Jean-Christophe Vié emphasized, “this was a special moment because SOS was announced at the previous World Conservation Congress and, for the first time, after a long preparation period we could see real results. We focused on concrete conservation actions and featured those making a difference on the ground; that is really what we would like SOS to be about. With the right funding in place, imagine how many more good results can come out of SOS-funded projects”.

In order of appearance, representatives who presented on their project included:

Dr. Jonathan Baillie, Director of Programmes at the Zoological Society of London presented on the EDGE programme, a global conservation initiative focusing specifically on threatened species that represent a disproportionate amount of unique evolutionary history - Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species including the Bactrian Camel (Camelus ferus), Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus), Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) and the Sagalla caecilian (Boulengerula niedeni).

Marco Cerezo, Director General of FUNDAECO presented on Saving the Habitat of Endemic and Endangered Amphibians in the Sierra Caral of Guatemala.

Dr. Deborah Pain, Director of Conservation at Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust presented on “headstarting” as a means to boost the breeding population of Spoon-billed Sandpipers.

Dr. Anwar Islam, Chief Executive of the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh and Professor of Zoology at Dhaka University, and Iqbal Hussain, Programme Manager for WTB, both presented on a holistic approach to promoting coexistence between human and tiger populations in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh.

Dr. Alan Liebermann, Research Fellow at San Diego Zoo Global presented on restoring the California Condor to Baja California, Mexico.

Dr. Harriet Davies-Mostert, Head of Science and Research at the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) presented the Dugong Emergency Protection Project taking place in the Bazaruto National Park of Mozambique.

Dr. Elizabeth Bennett, Vice-President of Species Conservation at the Wildlife Conservation Society presented on a variety of projects funded by SOS ranging from tigers to wild yaks.