September 2008

WEI Launches Its Website

Wild Entrust International is lunching its new Web site aimed at showcasing the organization's efforts of supporting the sustained conservation and management of wildlife and wildlife habitats around the world.

We invite everyone to visit www.wildentrust.org, sign up to receive our news announcements and become a part of the Wild Entrust International community.

The Web site features information about WEI's mission and programs, includes reports on current research conducted in our camp in Botswana, Africa, and provides a convenient and safe way to donate online to support the conservation efforts of WEI.

We are continuing to add more content and welcome your suggestions for improving the site. Please email us at info@wildentrust.org with any questions or comments.

Report from the Research Camp

Since WEI's launch in November 2007, the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, WEI's primary beneficiary, had a lot of great developments from both the wildlife and social sides of conservation.

Our Botswana research camp has grown, physically and intellectually, in many ways since last year. We have fulfilled our commitment of having at least one graduate student for each of our focal species, a post doctoral student as research coordinator and two research assistants. Currently, a full contingent of highly qualified and highly motivated Masters and PhD students from around the world are filling the tents, research Landrovers and the camp dinner table.

We are also fortunate to have a volunteer wildlife vet from Switzerland for three months. Angie Simai is a great asset to have on hand 24-7. She is helping us focus on collaring new study animals - mainly hyenas and lions, but also, opportunistically, cheetahs and leopards as they are encountered in the study area.

Among other activities, we are replacing collars on specific study animals with newer GPS technology providing us with precise data on animal movement, which will enable us to examine how these overlapping large carnivores share their habitats. Our current collared large carnivore study population includes eight lions, nine hyenas, five cheetahs, four leopards and thirteen wild dogs in seven packs.

Animal News

Wild Dogs
Cygnus, the dominant female of Matthews pack died this year just days before whelping her 5th litter of pups. When pregnant, females become extremely vulnerable to ambush by other predators, especially lions, and we suspect Cygnus died this way just days before her 9th birthday. Fortunately for the pack, her daughter Chinach was also pregnant and followed, shortly after the loss of her mother, with the birth of her litter on the 2nd of June. The pups first emerged on July 5th and are now the buzz around camp as nine little hungry bellies-on-legs rolling and wrestling and making their older siblings slightly crazy. Other packs in the study area are also denning and we have counted ten pups each at Chitabe pack and Mankwe pack dens so far.

Leopards
Amelia, a female leopard, has a two-month old cub and will we be focusing more attention on her in the coming months to learn how she manages.

Cheetahs
FloJo, a female resident cheetah in the study area (cheetahs named after sprinters) was moving her six tiny cubs through the area around camp about one month ago. Since then, she has lost three of them, but the remaining three appear to be strong and thriving.

Lions
In not so good news; Casey, a pride male lion, was kicked out of the Gomoti pride and has been recently reported on the wrong (cattle) side of the fence, where he no doubt is regularly causing concern for the local livestock farmers. Our efforts to inform them and ask them to attend to their livestock go largely unheeded. He unfortunately will not be popular so we hope that he quickly finds his way back north of the fence that divides cattle from wildlife.

Hyenas
Following several nightly visits of hyenas in camp, we decided to set a trap near camp to see who we could find. A big success; on night two, we were able to collar an unknown female hyena and by night four, we were reunited, through her, to Apollo;a male hyena who we have been out of touch with for 6 months since his collar failed in February.

BioBoundary Project

After many months of building and remodeling, ordering and shipping equipment and supplies, we have both the biochemist (Dr. Peter Apps) and the biochemistry lab almost ready to go. In a short, this project is about unlocking the secrets of territorial chemical communication in wild dogs. Then attempt to apply this natural species-specific chemical signaling to manage the ranging behavior of wild dogs that gets them in trouble with people and their livestock. The working hypothesis is that it should be possible to use scent messages to help manage ranging behaviors in territorial carnivores. Having completed five years of preliminary research with PhD candidate Megan Parker, BPCT and Dr. Apps are embarking on a five-year research program to make this a reality. Stay tuned to the BioBoundaries page for updates on this exciting project!

6th Annual Coaching for Conservation Program Update

From July 7th July 11th the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust in conjunction with Ashley's Soccer Camps and ConserveNation welcomed over 450 primary students and their teachers from all 19 local primary schools to the Maun Stadium for a week of world-class, educational and fun training experience in conservation and football. Lesley, together with more than 30 volunteer football coaches and education facilitators from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, put their expertise to the test and linked all of Ashley's soccer skills to conservation messages through games and drills that were inspired by our "animal coaches". The result was fun, dynamic, 5 day camp that was a huge success. We are thrilled - especially with the stronger conservation elements introduced.

The aim is to make sport synonymous with healthy lifestyles, linking football skills to important core values Respect for Self, Respect for Others and Respect for Botswana emphasizing the importance of wildlife conservation and environmental education. We are particularly pleased this year that approximately a third of the students were girls compared to only three in 2006 and 30 girls in 2007!

Feedback form the students and teachers for this year's program was incredibly enthusiastic and we are committed to continuing our work with the community schools through a further expanded year round support program to the community. We are all looking forward to expanding on this for 2009's Coaching for Conservation program. See the Coaching for Conservation page for a full update and developments.

Wild Entrust International's mission is to support the sustained conservation and management
of wildlife and wildlife habitats around the world. Visit www.wildentrust.org to learn more.