Update: The Search for Pygmy Hogs

Nepal, 2019

Dr. Teri Allendorf is currently in Nepal, searching for signs of the critically endangered pygmy hog and working with local mammalogists.

Local people have been finding small nests made by some mammal species, using fronds (which you can see in the photo above). Forest guards showed Dr. Allendorf the types of places they find these nests.

Small brown pygmy hog standing in dirt and dry grass
the critically endangered pgymy hog (Porcula salvania) – photo by John Singh

If signs of pygmy hogs living in this area are found, it will be an important discovery. Currently, pygmy hogs are thought only to remain in one limited area in India, with none remaining in Nepal. However, because the hogs are still found in adjacent landscapes in India and the correct habitat types exist in the study areas in Nepal, the nests are worth looking at closely.

Conservationists standing together in a forest holding gear, talking and looking around
Looking for nests
Small hole in the ground surrounded by ferns and decaying leaves
Pangolin burrow

So far, we haven’t found any definitive signs of pygmy hogs. However, while looking for pygmy hogs, we did see a nice pangolin burrow, which is a species of conservation concern. There are many awareness programs about pangolin conservation in Nepal, so hopefully they will be a conservation success story.

Two men running while pushing a red truck through sand with deep tire grooves
One of the perils of traveling in the field

The work in Nepal hasn’t always been easy… vehicles and sandy dry river beds don’t always mix well. Thanks to our partners Birendra and Dinesh for the help getting us out!

Hopefully more possible pygmy hog nests will be found so we can help identify whether they were made by pygmy hogs, or some other mammal. If they are made by pygmy hogs, it would be exciting indeed! But as of now, the team has seen no definitive signs in this part of Nepal yet.

Partners

Dr. Allendorf is meeting with many interesting and impactful people during the search for pygmy hogs, as she works closely with communities in Nepal.

Two conservation practitioners talking
Dr. Neupane and Dr. Allendorf

We’re so happy to partner with Dr. Dinesh Neupane, an independent researcher. His expertise in Nepal’s wildlife has been such a great contribution. See a short interview with Dinesh on Facebook.

Two conservation practitioners standing together in Nepal
Dr. Arjun Thapa and Birendra Mahato

We are also happy to be partnering with Dr. Arjun Thapa from Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation (SMCRF) and Birendra Mahato from Green Society Nepal.

Portrait in forest of Chairwoman in Nepal looking at camera
Chairwoman Murti Devi Chaudhary

The team also had the pleasure to meet Murti Devi Chaudhary, chair of the Mahila Jhatkhanda Community Forest in Saptari District, where the pygmy hog search is taking place. Women’s community forestry groups have a strong presence in Nepal but often receive less support and recognition.

While in Nepal, Dr. Allendorf is also working to connect communities and explore the possibility of a community-conserved wildlife corridor in the area. This is a continuation of the work Dr. Allendorf and Community Conservation’s late Founder Rob Horwich started years ago.

Stay tuned for more about the corridor in our next update!

Update: Community Trainings in Myanmar

February, 2019

Group of people walking outdoors and talking and laughing together in Myanmar
Meeting inspiring people at the training on Field Trip Day

Myanmar is an incredibly biodiverse country, home to many endangered and threatened species.

It recently opened to the world, and many are rushing to have a say in the country’s newly established protected areas.

Now is a critical time to develop a national conservation strategy for Myanmar – and make sure local communities’ values and needs are incorporated into protected area management. We believe that local communities are the solution to conservation problems.

Why do community trainings?
One way to reach the right people across the whole country at once is to hold community conservation trainings, and invite people who live near the country’s protected areasto attend. At the trainings, they learn how to launch their own conservation projects (like setting up community forestry areas).

“Local people in Myanmar recognize that their forests are more than just places to extract food and fuel. They also see the forests as beautiful, biodiverse places worth protecting.”

Dr. Teri Allendorf, UW Madison and Community Conservation

What will be accomplished?
February’s session was the second of a series of three trainings, covering all of Myanmar’s 21 protected areas. The goal is to give people from throughout Myanmar the tools and skills they need in order to manage their resources – which protects the habitats we all value.

Group of young people stand together on deck overlooking water with matching polo shirts giving a thumbs up
Friends of Wildlife Staff

Community Conservation has partnered with local organization Friends of Wildlife to implement these trainings. Their knowledge of the local conservation landscape has been crucial to the project’s success. They said governance and participatory decision-making were important topics to cover, so these were a big focus of this training.

Woman explaining something to two men while they are seated together around a low table.
Khine Khine Swe (right) from partner organization Friends of Wildlife with two local leaders.

Attendees from the first training have already launched their own projects to conserve and protect the country’s incredible biodiversity! These two community leaders started a community forest in their village. Our colleageue Khine Khine Swe (right) visited them with Dr. Sansom and Dr. Allendorf to see how things were going.

Community Conservation’s Facebook page has more details, updates and photos from Myanmar.

Thank you to the Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation, the Helmsley Foundation, the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and the University of Wisconsin for making this happen.

And thank you to the supporters of Community Conservation for helping us join the supporters of Friends of Wildlife and of this inspiring project!