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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Proyecto Titi: Saving small monkeys with crazy hair for over 25 years

Proyecto Titi logo
Proyecto Titi is an organization designed to save Colombia's critically endangered cotton-top tamarins Saguinus oedipus and preserve habitats and biodiversity within the forests where tamarins live.  Cotton-top tamarins are a small primate species found only within Colombian tropical forests.  Although there are no accurate estimates concerning their original population size, tamarins must have numbered at least within the tens of thousands since 20,000-30,000 were exported during the late 1960's for medical tests and the pet trade, and since at least 75% (but possibly 98%) of their original forest habitat has been cleared.  The latest population estimate is there could be 7,400 animals left, presumably 20% or less than the original population.  Unfortunately, habitat destruction continues unabated, and two hydroelectric dams being built will flood much remaining forest.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Frankfurt Zoological Society: It's not ALL happening at the zoo

Frankfurt Zoological Society logo FZS

The Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) was originally founded to support Zoo Frankfurt over 150 years ago but has grown far past that purpose alone.  Progressive zoos today focus their energies not merely into entertainment, but also utilize their unique positions to improve the nature's state through research, education, species conservation through both captive breeding and habitat protection, animal welfare, and sustainability.  FZS is among the global leaders within the zoo field through their outstanding work.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

International Crane Foundation: Tall, lanky & in need of help

I am incredibly lucky and have worked among 12 of the 15 crane species globally within zoos and have seen another species flying free occasionally.  Given my tremendous love of cranes, I know the amazing crane work done at the International Crane Foundation (ICF) because they do most global crane conservation work.  George Archibald and Ron Sauey formed ICF during the early 1970's to promote crane conservation through research, education, habitat protection, captive breeding, and releasing captive bred birds into protected wild areas.  ICF have done an outstanding job through all those areas.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

WildlifeDirect: Blogging for conservation


Since Paula Kuhumbu is being presented a National Geographic/Buffett Conservation Leadership Award due to her work as WildlifeDirect and the Kenya Land Conservation Trust's Executive Director (and also being named a 2011 National Geographic Emerging Explorer), this seems like an excellent time to write a post concerning WildlifeDirect and the excellent work it does.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Helping the rarest cat in the Americas: Alianza Gato Andino

Andean Cat Alliance logo
Now I will cover Alianza Gato Andino (AGA, the Andean Cat Alliance), which works to save the Andean cat Leopardus (Oreailurus) jacobita, the most endangered North & South America cat.  Populations of this small high Andes cat (found above timberline) are very small and scattered, and densities are extremely low.  The cats are also extremely secretive.  This makes these cats extremely difficult to study, since field biologists have only spotted wild cats a few times and none are captive.  Many Andean cat researchers study the cat many years without ever seing one alive, or if so only a rare and fleeting glimpse.  That is a commitment beyond most people- I am not used to meeting researchers who have not seen their study species, yet remain so incredibly dedicated to their work.  It is a rare person that works so diligently saving a species they have never seen and may not ever see just because the researchers know it is important.  And so these researchers continue their work because it is more important the cat is safe than the cat is visible- the researchers labor on to save this cat (and one day maybe also catch a quick glimpse).
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

King of the Mountain: The Snow Leopard Conservancy

Snow Leopard Conservancy logo
Some conservation organizations like the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust start because someone sees how human devastation affects flora/fauna globally.  Other organizations were founded by people who are extremely familiar with one species (often researchers who study the species) who discover they cannot watch impassively while their study species plummets towards extinction.  Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) is the latter type.  Rodney Jackson is a head snow leopard Panthera (Uncia) uncia researcher so he knows better than anyone how precarious their continued existence is and how many threats face them.  Fortunately, Rodney understands those threats and has unlimited drive.  Rodney founded SLC and has devoted himself to alleviating threats against snow leopards.
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust: It all started with a zoo

Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust logo
Conservationist, nature documentarian, and author Gerald Durrell founded the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust during 1963 (although 1959 saw the zoo open) to create captive breeding groups of endangered animals and plants.  Since that time the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (formerly the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust) has driven much endangered species protection, often through captive breeding at the zoo (the Durrell Wildlife Park, formerly the Jersey Zoo).  The trust made the dodo Raphus cucullatus their symbol, highlighting their conservation work's importance and  demonstrating what happens among endangered species when conservation enterprises are not taken or are not strong enough.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Xerces Society: Helping those without backbones for 40 years

Xerces Society logo

The Xerces Society was formed 40 years ago to protect insects and other invertebrates and their habitats.  The Xerces Society was named after the Xerces blue Glaucopsyche xerces, the first North American butterfly species we made go extinct.  Exact reasons behind the Xerces blue's extinction are not known because its ecology was poorly understood before it went extinct, but current best guess is the butterfly and a local ant species had a symbiotic relationship and when invasive Argentine ants displaced most local ant species the butterfly lost a vital life cycle requirement.  Which just shows that little unloved species like ants should be saved just like glamorous mega-vertebrates like giant pandas, because all those little invertebrate species form the food webs' bases and every time a base species is removed it will likely have a disproportionately large response higher up the trophic pyramid.  While most conservation organizations save adorable fluffy animals, the Xerces Society fights the good fight for the little guy, quite literally, saving animals which you would be hard pressed to call cute but are still equally deserving.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Out of sight ≠ out of mind for the good folks at Bat Conservation International

Bat Conservation International logo

Bat Conservation International (BCI) is a conservation organization which has been around since 1982 conducting crucial work saving bat species globally.  In 2006 white-nose syndrome was first discovered among North American bats .  Scientists were not sure what it was at the time and it has unfortunately swept westward over the continent since then, killing nearly every bat it contact while progressing towards the Pacific.  This is a devastating catastrophe; nearly the worstNorth American wildlife disaster ever.  Consequently, BCI's work the past several years has brought a new urgency.  White-nose syndrome is currently found within nine of North America's forty-seven bat species already.  BCI funds research into white-nose syndrome's causes and cures, but they need your financial help.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Highway to Hell: Serengeti Watch

Spotted Hyaenas with baby in the Serengeti © Thomas Knight
While Serengeti Watch is not a long established conservation organization and does not have many huge successes under their belt, I include it because although it is extremely new, its goal is crucial and time sensitive: stop a government-mandated highway's construction straight through the Serengeti, through its most sensitive part.  The plan is to build the highway next year, although Frankfurt Zoological Society researchers working in the Serengeti, other scientists globally, travel agents (and the tourism industry in toto), and concerned individuals have been requesting the government rethink their decision and instead reroute the highway outside the Serengeti.  I do not have any idea why the government doesn't reroute the highway, since rerouting it would increase economic growth within those villages along its path.  If the highway is built the way it is currently being proposed,  it is not going to make anyone happy.  Estimates are at least 3/4 of wildebeest which migrate will be decimated and may stop being migratory.  There will be incalculable roadkill wildlife losses and rhino poaching will increase substantially with increased access inside more sensitive reserve areas.  Cost over-runs will also eclipse the projected highway cost (wildlife barriers are needed which the current budget has not included).
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Why a duck? The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)

Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust logo

Who doesn't love a duck?  Their rounded, rubbery bills, their endearing waddling gait, their happy tail-waggling, their wonderful calls- it's hard to hate ducks.  Waterfowl have always been my personal favorites, and are also the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust's (WWT) personal favorites.  WWT is a British nonprofit which Sir Peter Scott (among the greatest conservation biologists, who also helped found the World Wildlife Fund and create the IUCN Red Data Books)founded in 1946 and protects, expands, and creates wetlands and researches and protects wetland species.  WWT has nine wetland visitor centers scatted around the country which are all spectacular (Martin Mere is the only one I have visited so far during my UK trips, but it blew me away and I have heard the other centers are equally beautiful and amazing), but WWT does not work only throughout Great Britain.  WWT also saves many endangered species globally.  Following are a few examples:

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