UK Takes Unique, 2.1 Million Pound Approach to Saving Endangered Species

The UK has pledged £2.1 million to help some of the world’s most endangered species, like tigers and chimpanzees, by focusing on helping people.

During a visit to London Zoo to view endangered species ahead of this month’s Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London, UK Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt pledged £2.1 million ($2.8 million) to the goal of protecting Sumatran tigers and West African chimpanzees, as well as rare and endangered birds.

Deployed through the Partnerships for Forests program, this extra injection of funds will help existing schemes already in action across Liberia, Indonesia and other countries that are home to highly trafficked species.

“Nobody wants to see extraordinary species become extinct, or the communities living near their habitats struggle for jobs and livelihoods,” Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt told The Guardian, “which is why UK aid has a unique role to play in tackling the underlying causes driving these problems – namely poverty and rapid, unmanaged deforestation.”

Estimates say there are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wilds of Indonesia. Poachers have systematically hunted the tigers for their valuable pelts. Meanwhile, deforestation and land development have stripped them of the dense, evergreen forests they require as part of their large solitary ranges.

The newly pledged money from the UK government will go toward creating 16,000 jobs for people inhabiting areas where the tigers and other endangered forest animals—like the orangutan and the Sumatran elephant—also live.

How Helping People Helps Endangered Animals

This may seem a curious way of doing things, but it is part of a well-evidenced effort that empowers local communities through employment. When people have other means to support themselves, they will no longer hunt endangered species for whatever price they might be able to get on the black market for the species’ pelts or body parts.

We have seen this kind of scheme be very effective in protecting elephant species as well as with some limited success in protecting big casts, like the snow leopard.

As an adjunct to this effort, the pledged funds will also support sustainable land use. This will take the form of backing sustainable rubber plantations and honey farms among other such farming advances. The funds will also encourage local communities, together with government assistance, to protect critical areas of habitat.

In Liberia, the money will be similarly used, but this time aiding the work of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and other relevant members of the conservation movement to help develop and maintain forest-friendly Gola cocoa. This will therefore restrain the loss of forest habitats that are critical for a number of endangered or threatened bird species, as well as chimpanzees and other wildlife.

These schemes are interesting, because they don’t just seek to put a band-aid on wildlife loss, but rather seek to improve the conditions that drive many of the regions’ poorest to hunt endangered wildlife in the first place.

Through tackling issues of poverty and joblessness, we can create sustainable change that doesn’t hinge on Western aid but rather helps lift those in poverty out of hardship and empowers them to conserve wildlife in the region.

In many cases, this helps to put right what Western consumerism has exacerbated in terms of land clearing and deforestation, so it’s not just a powerful exercise in charitable giving. It’s also a means of addressing past mistakes that have exploited natural resources and the people who live and work in areas.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

44 comments

Kitty Heardman
Vee Babout a month ago

excellent

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Lisa B
Lisa B2 months ago

It's a joy to hear some good news.
This is GREAT!!!!

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Carolyn Bateman
Carolyn Bateman2 months ago

Well done, Brits! This approach makes a lot of sense. Good for people, good for the animals.

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Justin M
Justin M2 months ago

Thanks

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Linda Wallace
Linda Wallace2 months ago

Good for the UK.

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Sebastian J
Robert S. R2 months ago

Terrific. we do need to involve communities and local inhabitants. As friends, they can often do a great deal more to protect the forests and wild creatures than can the relatively few rangers and others.

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Terri S
Terri S2 months ago

Fantastic!!!

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Teresa A
Teresa Antela2 months ago

Great news from UK! May this be spread all over the world!

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Antje S.
Antje S.2 months ago

Whow - awesome! Thank you for sharing and caring.

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Chad A
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

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