Chief Executive’s Blog

November 22, 2013 § 1 Comment


I am excited to say that a picture a giant armadillo mother and its baby, taken as part of the Giant Armadillo Project, has been awarded as runner up in the BBC Wildlife Magazine Camera Trap 2013 new discoveries category. Congratulations to Dr Arnaud Desbiez, Regional Coordinator for Conservation and Research in Latin America for RZSS, and the rest of the Project team for this wonderful recognition!  This is in fact the first EVER photograph captured of a baby giant armadillo. Another image of a giant armadillo taken with a remote camera trap was also commended in the animal behaviour category.

Giant Armadillo Baby by Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project

Giant Armadillo Baby by Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project

The Pantanal Giant Armadillo Project was established in 2010 and prior to this the species was almost entirely unstudied. Indeed, virtually nothing was known about the species’ reproduction before the series of camera-trap photos, including the award winning image, was captured. The winning camera trap images can be seen in the December issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine.

In other news, the RZSS Conservation team recently received an update from researcher Thomas Doherty–Bone, upon his return to the UK after a visiting the Amphibian Research Project in Cameroon last month. This project, which is supported by RZSS, focusses particularly on the Lake Oku clawed frog which is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN red list – though a lot of other amphibian species are also studied and protected. A lot of great work was discussed and carried out while Thomas was in Cameroon, from holding conservation action plan workshops to helping on the development and implementation of the scholarship programme in local schools.

Lake Oku in Cameroon

Lake Oku in Cameroon

Two conservation action plan workshops were held at Lake Oku, one with 30 delegates for Lake Oku summit grasslands area and another with 40 stakeholders for the shores of Lake Oku. Plans for the future of conservation in both these areas were discussed, issues that arose were access to these areas and a possible development on the shores. Action plans will be written up and it was unanimously agreed that all livestock should be removed from the forest surrounding the lake which is a step forward in protecting the area.

Work is also being done with local schools to promote environmental education. While Thomas was in Cameroon, the scholarship program “The Kilum-Ijim Young Scientist Award” was reviewed. This scheme approaches secondary schools to select the two best performing science students entering Form 2, who then have their tuition paid for the following academic year. Three schools were targeted, with a total of six pupils supported. The scheme is being continued for the 2013/14 academic year, with an additional six schools targeted, which will benefit a total of 18 pupils in the next year.

The field visit by the CRAUC coordinator has been a very successful endeavour, particularly for engaging with multiple stakeholders in the management of critical amphibian habitats. The production of conservation action plans is an important step, with the possibility that in the next five years, at least the Lake Oku Clawed Frog could be safe enough to have its IUCN assessment classification improved to a threat less than Critically Endangered. Additional work is needed to ensure this becomes a reality, as well as for the other threatened amphibians and their representative habitats.

Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us.

Henrik Tikkanen


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