Oryx antelope, Addax, caracal, striped hyena... their names may be unfamiliar for a North African country known for its olive cultivation and tourist attracting beaches. And indeed, these rare species are native to Tunisia and roam in the countries’ National Parks.
The Bouhedma National Park (BNP) in South Tunisia is the last relic of an acacia raddiana savanna in North Africa and famous for containing many rare creatures. It is one of North Africa’s best wildlife secrets but the incognita that remains is: for how long?
Just a few weeks ago, the critically endangered Mhorr gazelle (nanger dama mhorr) – the world’s tallest gazelle- has become extinct in Tunisia after the last surviving individual died this April in BNP/Haddaj.
Now, after years of political instability because of the Arabic spring and with the new global outbreak of COVID-19 Tunisian wildlife faces serious threats to its long-term survival. Overhunting coupled with lack of wildlife monitoring and human/wildlife conflicts is enough to push many species over the brink.
The conservation status of many wild species in Tunisia, especially predators, hasn’t been updated since more than 15 years making Tunisian wildlife in urgent need of a monitoring program.
And this is where we come in - We are establishing a wildlife-monitoring network with special focus on the under-investigated predators and prey species to gather monitoring data on their presence/absence by camera traps and direct observations in order to assess status and trend of species, detect long-term population changes and provide guidance for ongoing management of wildlife and habitats.
Conducting interviews with local people is also an important part of our research which helps us to respond to local views and to determine humans attitude towards wildlife.
Who We Are
Bouhedma National Park Conservation Community alias ATRA is a non-profit organization based in Tunisia. For over 5 years our team of dedicated staff worked on the ground to protect imperiled wildlife. Since last year we have been working on the project “Tracing the Footsteps of Tunisia’s furtive Predators” (TFTFP) and we have been granted around 28 000 euro from the PPI-OSCAN Program through the IUCN. This helped in the initial project execution; purchase basic monitoring material, hire local field coordinators, conduct social surveys and interview rounds with local people and carry out regular field trips.
What We Need & What You Get
With your support we can cover some of the ongoing monitoring and maintain our wildlife and landscape conservation, capacity building and education projects. In addition to monitoring predators and prey this project will go beyond and help protect vulnerable wildlife from being wiped out during the threat of Covid-19 in Tunisia. The use of more camera traps is important to improve the detection rate of wildlife crimes and is our most important anti-poaching asset. The accidental capture of human activities can be used to assess the presence of poachers and loggers. At the present we have 8 camera traps working in an area of 5000 ha. An area that could be compared to 7000 soccer fields. We thus urgently need additional funding to:
- Purchase 20 additional camera traps (+ batteries and memory cards) & maintenance of equipment: to continue monitoring the distribution and abundance of cryptic and rare wildlife species in BNP and simultaneous control of human activities. 4500 euro
- Purchase additional radio collars to track predators’ movement and behavior on a long term perspective. 2000 euro
- Vehicle maintenance and fuel to carry on ongoing fieldtrips, night spotting trips, to carry out more patrols and to track and collar more animals. 1500 euro
- Provide farmers and shepherds with guardian dogs to prevent human/predator conflicts: 3 Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies which do good job in keeping predators away will be placed with farmers that are hardest hit by predators. Food for the dogs and veterinary support will be provided for 6 months. 2000 euro
By making a donation, you will be helping to secure a future for Tunisian wildlife in its natural habitat during this time of crisis. Whatever you give will help us continue to fund vital projects on the ground and helps us make this grand project succeed. Your donations will create the foundation for a high-impact research project that can run for multiple years, used by a range of scientists, students and local people to increase our knowledge about this precious ecosystem and its wildlife.
The progress of our work and the findings from this survey will be published on our Facebook page on a regular basis. Additionally, all contributors will receive access to our google drive account where our camera trap pictures can be instantly accessed.
Other Ways You Can Help
We realize that some of you just can't contribute financially, but that doesn't mean you can't help. Here are some other ways that you can help us achieve our goals:
- Share this campaign with your friends and family.
- Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Hayfebouhedma)
Thank you in advance for your loving generosity during this time of crisis.
Your TFTFP Working Group