One of the threats facing species in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil is hunting. In the reserve managed by WLT’s partner Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) hunting has been reduced to a fraction of what it used to be, but evidence of poaching is still found occasionally, with a photo of a Lowland Agouti (Agouti paca) killed in the reserve sent to REGUA last week.
Hunting is primarily reduced by ranger patrols around the reserve, as their presence deters poachers and on their patrols they find and remove traps and snares.
Environmental Education teaches locals the value of the forest
REGUA’s long-term action to reduce hunting is environmental education. REGUA staff visit local schools to encourage children to explore and value the environment, whilst teaching them about the threats to the forests and wildlife.
They also have a Young Rangers Programme for students between 12 and 16 years and REGUA tries to reach children from families with a history of hunting. The programme includes performance and creative arts with visits to REGUA accompanied by the rangers, where they assist with seed collection, tending to plants in the nursery and tree planting.
REGUA’s efforts have increased wildlife populations
After a decade of environmental education efforts, REGUA have found that hunting has diminished significantly and the overall population of animals has increased as older hunters are giving up and their children are not interested.
However, there are still occasional incidents where traps and snares are found, which emphasize the importance of having rangers on the ground who can remove them and whose presence acts as an effective deterrent for poachers. The larger the area we can put under this kind of protection, the better for the wildlife of the Atlantic Forest.
Nicholas Locke, President of REGUA, said about the photo sent to REGUA “It is painful to see the cold blooded killing of this animal and it reminds us there are those who don’t respect REGUA’s efforts to stop this sort of senseless slaughter. It reminds us that though the biodiversity is rebounding from distant days, there are still people out there who don’t share our passion and don’t care. This encourages us to keep hard on their trail to make sure that we continue to gain ground and that the forests continue to become healthier; that is our objective and it is worth every effort.”
WLT needs your help to raise £40,000 to buy a piece of Atlantic Forest to put it under REGUA’s protection. Securing this land means REGUA will be able to send in rangers to patrol the area which adjoins REGUA’s existing reserve and protect the wildlife from illegal hunting and logging.
At the moment we are almost halfway to our target, and we hope to secure this land by the time the Olympic Games finish on 21 August and name the 221 acre (89.5 hectare) reserve the Olympic Forest Reserve so it becomes a conservation legacy for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Update: Thanks to our generous supporters, we exceeded our £40,000 target and were able to safeguard the Olympic Forest.