Endangered Wildlife Trust – What We Are Fighting For

Conservation is about our natural heritage, our natural resources, our culture, and our livelihoods. It’s about food and water, and air. It’s about our hearts and souls, being grounded to our one Earth, being passionate and compassionate, and recognising the common good and being fair and just.

That is the true essence of who the Endangered Wildlife Trust is as an organisation – we fight not only for species and their habitats but for the fundamental human right to an environment that is not harmful to one’s health and well-being. For the Endangered Wildlife Trust, conserving the planet, its natural assets, and all who live on it is a calling, a privilege, and a way of life, and we are proud to share it with you. The real power for change lies within each of us – in our everyday engagements with people who learn from us, teach us, and join us in our timeless campaign to protect forever, together.

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Amphibians are the most threatened vertebrates on Earth, with 41% of species assessed by the IUCN Red List at risk of extinction. Furthermore, amphibian populations are declining on every continent where they are found. These declines make conserving amphibians a high priority. Of South Africa’s 134 frog species, almost 30% are threatened.

Frogs and reptiles in southern Africa are threatened by habitat destruction, alteration, and fragmentation, pollution, the pet trade, climate change, and the misunderstanding of humans.

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Data Science

The EWT works widely with partners in collecting, collating, managing and sharing many biodiversity datasets. The EWT is an Associate Participant Node of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

Data-sharing allows researchers and conservation practitioners to expedite the conversion of primary research results into knowledge, products, and procedures to improve conservation initiatives. It is the view of the EWT that environmental data should be made as widely and freely available as possible while safeguarding confidentiality and proprietary rights.

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The EWT focused its early Cheetah conservation work on human-carnivore conflict and the illegal trade in Cheetah for pets and their skin. In 2011, we launched our Cheetah Range Expansion Project to increase Cheetah numbers by addressing the impacts of historic habitat loss and human conflict on Cheetah populations. In 2017, we expanded the project’s focus to include other countries in southern Africa by working with African Parks to return Cheetahs to Liwonde National Park, Malawi. Since then, we have worked with African Parks, the Peace Parks Foundation, the Ivan Carter Foundation, and Karingani Game Reserve to successfully reintroduce Cheetahs to parks and reserves in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia. We established this project with 217 Cheetahs on 41 reserves in South Africa, and as of June 2022, the project included 470 Cheetahs on 65 reserves, covering over 2 million ha of safe Cheetah space throughout southern Africa.

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The EWT works with reserve managers and field rangers in reserves to facilitate effective data collection and analysis to increase the effectiveness of their anti-poaching teams. We train field rangers to collect data relevant to where poachers might move (e.g. locations of target species or recent signs of poacher activities) and analysts to use this data to predict and map future poaching events. We are assisting our Carnivore Conservation Programme to enhance the capacity of Mozambican customs law enforcement officials to combat illegal trade in lion products through enhanced detection and of analysts in Limpopo National Park to collect and analyse relevant data using patrol optimisation techniques.

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Riverine Rabbit

The Critically Endangered Riverine Rabbit is regarded as one of Africa’s most endangered mammals, threatened predominantly by habitat transformation across the Karoo, resulting in a limited geographical distribution and seemingly small population size. The species is known from two populations: one in the Nama Karoo, where it was first discovered near Richmond in 1902, and one near Touwsriver in the Succulent Karoo, where the second population was discovered in 2003 (Figure 1). However, more recently in 2018, yet another, third population of these rabbits was discovered (through the correct identification of a roadkill specimen) just west of the Baviaanskloof, approximately 250 kilometres east of the known distribution. Research on the first two populations has been ongoing, however little to nothing is known about the third, most recently discovered population.

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Eco Systems

The EWT is working with landowners to champion the conservation of this spectacular landscape. We collaborate with all stakeholders to promote alternative economies and sustainable agriculture over unsustainable developments such as hydraulic fracturing and uranium mining.

We focus on enhancing habitat protection and improvement and driving innovative research to better understand the unique species in the Karoo. We collaborate with the communities to undertake activities that achieve specific conservation goals in each landscape.

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“Drones are helping us roam large areas and access otherwise inaccessible sites. Advanced tracking systems, real-time data analytics, and artificial intelligence-driven solutions are empowering conservationists across the globe providing unprecedented tools to help identify, monitor, track and ultimately preserve wildlife,” says the Secretary-General of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Ivonne Higuero.

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Golden Mole

On 29 November 2023, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and Re:wild announced the re-discovery of De Winton’s Golden Mole (Cryptochloris wintoni), and the story was received with great excitement all over the world as it steadily became one of the biggest conservation stories for 2023. This small mammal had eluded detection for over 80 years, was listed on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as “Critically Endangered; Possibly Extinct”, and on Re:wild’s list of Top 25 Most Wanted “Lost” Species, until its rediscovery last year. The research findings were published in Biodiversity and Conservation on 24 November 2023 and can be read here.

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Wildlife and Transport

Wildlife-vehicle collisions seriously impact wildlife populations and are dangerous to vehicle occupants. The Endangered Wildlife Trust is the only African organisation with a dedicated programme focused on transport and wildlife interactions. The programme works across South Africa and collaborates on projects with colleagues worldwide.

Our goal is to reduce the impacts of transport infrastructure on wildlife and vice versa. We focus on improving our understanding of the threats to wildlife from transport activities and infrastructure and identifying solutions suitable to the southern African context.

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African vultures have declined drastically over the last 30 years, and four of the 11 species are now Critically Endangered. The EWT’s Vultures for Africa Programme implements specific actions that address poisoning as the most significant threat to African vultures

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Wild Dogs

There are around 350 Wild Dogs in the Kruger National Park (KNP) today. This is the largest connected population in southern Africa. As they roam across their home ranges, Wild Dogs may leave the park and enter high-risk areas where they can be caught in snares or catch diseases from domestic dogs. We monitor these dogs using a near-real-time monitoring platform developed in collaboration with Contemplate Wild. We use cloud computing to track collared packs and compare their locations to a continuously updated risk map of the area. The team receives an alert when a pack enters a high-risk area, and we know to check it for snares or to vaccinate the dogs. This way, we can make the most of our limited time and resources.

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Snakes and Reptiles

We monitor target species and habitats using innovative technologies such as apps, acoustic recording devices, and camera traps. We run five projects across three provinces (the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal).

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How to Help

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