Big Wins 2017: Wildlife | WWF

Big Wins 2017: Wildlife

Posted on 23 diciembre 2017
Tortuga Carey
© Jürgen Freund / WWF
More than 2.22% of Colombia´s biodiversity are classified under some category of threat. While this may sound like a very small fraction overall, it is not. In a mega-diverse country like ours, this number represents, among others, 798 plant species, 313 vertebrate species, including multiple freshwater species in river basins like that of the Magdalena, Amazon, and Orinoco Rivers, where fisheries have recorded falls in production of up to 90% in recent decades. If a small group of those species ceased to exist, the resulting ecologic imbalance could threaten the provision of ecosystem services, food security for many communities, and even our own survival.

WWF-Colombia is fully committed to the conservation of the country’s species. Among those given priority in the national territory is the Hawksbill turtle, which is classified as Critically Endangered due to threats faced from widespread practices like the illegal commerce of its shell, the looting of its nests, and the use of inadequate fishing gear, resulting in high levels of by-catch. That is why WWF-Colombia developed the first smartphone application aimed at wildlife protection: ZERO CAREY, which is freely available since October for iOS and Android devices, uses geographic positioning technology to allow users to denounce, with pictures and exact locations, crimes against the Hawksbill. This year, we formed an alliance with the tourism sector in Cartagena and Santa Marta –the cities where these illegal activities are most widespread– to promote the application and raise awareness about the threats that this species faces.

© Jürgen Freund / WWF 

Another prioritized species is the river dolphin, whose health opens a window into the state of its natural surroundings. If dolphins are fine, we know that the ecosystem they inhabit is relatively healthy. Activities like illegal mining, deforestation, overfishing, and poaching in the Amazon threaten river dolphin populations. Bearing this in mind, WWF-Colombia, in partnership with the Omacha Foundation, has promoted a regional conservation agenda for cetaceans for the Amazonian countries. Brazil, Bolivia and Colombia have taken a large step forward with a shared research agenda. Scientists in all three countries installed satellite tags on 11 individuals in different rivers to monitor their movement, habitat use and behavior. This information will help national and local authorities craft better conservation policies. In the last ten years, the Omacha Foundation, together with WWF-Colombia, has led 28 expeditions, three of them this year, to evaluate the state of river dolphin populations.

© / Mark Carwardine /WWF

We have also used satellite technology to buttress conservation efforts for hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini). The first expedition to tag individuals of this species was carried out recently in San Cristóbal Island (Galápagos) as part of the “Saving the Eastern Pacific Sharks” project, which is financed by the Gray Family Foundation of Canada with support from WWF-Colombia, WWF-Canada, WWF-Ecuador, the Galapagos National Park, and Universidad San Francisco de Quito. After being captured and measured, five sharks were tagged with devices that will allow researchers to better understand their behavior and movement in protected areas of the Eastern Pacific Ocean.

Continue reading about the achievements and progress we made during 2017 here.

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Tortuga Carey
© Jürgen Freund / WWF Enlarge