‘Zoo Teen’ Volunteers Supporting WWF Forest Guards in the Saola Protected Areas



Posted on 20 February 2014  | 
Zoo Teens with sample snares and information
© WWF-Greater MekongEnlarge
The Zoo Teens – teenage volunteers at Boise Zoo in the USA – have been taking action to help preserve endangered species in the WWF Saola protected areas in the Annamite Mountains spanning Vietnam and Laos.

A variety of the snares and traps frequently found and disabled by Forest Guards, including dead fall, steel jaw leg hold, leg and body snares and a fence and snare line, were sent to the Zoo. The Zoo Teens then spent the summer of 2013 demonstrating the traps and snares to zoo visitors, and collected donations to support the work of the Forest Guards working for the WWF CarBi Programme.

The specially trained Forest Guards work at the sharp end of the project, playing a crucial role in protecting the forest, its biodiversity and the ecosystems its inhabitants depend upon. They patrol the protected areas, ensuring that the laws relating to forest and wildlife preservation are enforced. They also become directly involved in rescuing animals found with hunters or trapped in snares.

Since the start of the WWF CarBi Programme, Forest Guards have accumulated over 18,000 patrol days, destroyed over 700 illegal hunting and logging camps and removed over 30,000 snares and traps.

Enabling visitors to handle actual examples of traps and snares is a powerful way to raise public awareness of one of the most serious threats facing the threatened species of the Annamite forests. Since traps and snares do not discriminate between species, they capture critically endangered animals as well as more common species. Animals such as the critically endangered Saola – one of the rarest animals on earth – and Douc langurs are highly vulnerable to this kind of trapping.

Our WWF CarBi Programme’s success does not only come from a finely calibrated balance between cutting edge science and pragmatic biodiversity management on the ground, but also the passion of our staff and volunteers like the zoo teens, said Fanie Bekker, the Trans Boundary Director of WWF Greater Mekong’s CarBi Programme.

The Zoo Teens’ commitment to their task over the summer saw them exceed their initial goal of raising $1,500 from the public to support the work of the Forest Guards. Now, they have a new target of raising $10,000. Donations from the Zoo Teens will be put to excellent use – to purchase equipment or to fund training for the Forest Guard teams patrolling an area of forest where a Saola was recently sighted for the first time in 15 years.

Zoo Teens Logan, Jeremy and Mason said, “If poaching continues, the only place you’ll be able to see these wonderful animals is at a zoo. We are thrilled to see so many people wanting to get involved and making sure these animals stick around for a very long time. These guards are true heroes!”

Jean-Christophe Vié, the Director of SOS – Save Our Species (SOS), a global initiative that directly funds the WWF Mekong’s on the-ground Saola law enforcement activities congratulated the Zoo Teens on their commitment. “SOS funds the community forest guards, their patrolling and the snare removal aspects of this project in Viet Nam and Laos. But community outreach is also a crucial part of conservation work. Initiatives like the Zoo Teens helps connect people with the forest guards and their hard work as well as these precious rare Saola they are protecting. Well done to all the young people involved – you’ve converted your passion for nature into action on the ground – a core value of SOS’ work too!”

By raising awareness of the issue of animal trapping, and by raising funds, the Zoo Teens are successfully supporting the essential work performed by the Forest Guards, enabling them to ensure that the vital biodiversity of the Annamite Mountains is preserved – now and forever.
Zoo Teens with sample snares and information
© WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge
Zoo Teens at Boise Zoo demonstrate traps and snares to visitors
© WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge
A steel jaw leg hold trap
© WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge

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