Friday, November 21, 2008

Danger: Elephant Crossing

Grad school has indeed turned out to be a killer, and I unfortunately haven't been able to sit down and do any writing. I have managed to keep up on wildlife conservation news, however, and I came across this important article last night on the Wildlife Conservation Society's website. Please read!

Why didn’t the forest elephant cross the road? It feared for its life, according to results of a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Save the Elephants.

The threat of encounters with poachers rises as new roadways are carved into wildlife habitat in Central Africa’s Congo Basin. Because these highly intelligent animals now associate roads with danger, they are avoiding them at all costs.

The authors of the study tracked 28 forest elephants with GPS collars and found that they have adopted a “siege mentality.” Only one of the elephants crossed a road outside of a protected area. As it crossed, it traveled at 14 times its normal pace.

Forest elephants showed adverse reactions to roads even in the largest remaining wilderness areas in Central Africa. This is bad news for these endangered animals, since a boom in road building is underway.

“Forest elephants are basically living in fear…in prisons created by roads. They are roaming around the woods like frightened mice rather than tranquil, formidable giants of their forest realm,” said Dr. Stephen Blake, the study’s lead author. He added that starvation, disease, stress, infighting, and social disruption are likely to result.

Losing access to food and important mineral deposits may elicit aggressive and other negative behaviors among different social groups, which in turn can affect reproductive success. Other negative impacts include overgrazing of local vegetation and reduced seed dispersal by elephants, which is vital to helping regenerate forests.

Since the data were collected, even more roads have been constructed in half of the six study sites in wilderness areas of Republic of Congo and Gabon. Other multi-billion dollar development projects loom. However, the study’s authors say there is still time to stem the crisis.

“A small yet very feasible shift in development planning, one that is actually good for poor local forest people and for wildlife and wilderness, would be a tremendous help to protect forest elephants and their home,” said Blake. “Planning roads to give forest elephants breathing space so that at least those in the deep forest can relax, as well as…reducing poaching would be trivial in terms of cost but massively important for conservation.”

WCS elephant conservation efforts have been supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s African Elephant Conservation Fund, Save the Elephants, USAID CARPE, Global Environmental Facility of the World Bank (GEF Congo), Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Monitoring of Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) Program, University of Maryland, Society for Conservation and Development, the European Union’s Espèces Phares Project and the Central African Network of Protected Areas and Columbus Zoo.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Easy Way to Help and Stay Informed!

Join a conservation organization!
Here's a tiny list of conservation groups that are worthy of your attention. Check them out, explore, investigate, join!

The Nature Conservancy, 1815 N. Lynn St., Arlington, VA 22209
The World Wildlife Fund, 1250 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037
The National Wildlife Federation, 11100 Wildlife Center Dr., Reston, VA 20190-5362
The National Audubon Society, 950 Third Ave., New York, NY 10020
The Sierra Club, 730 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

And find out what kind of conservation programs exist at your local zoo or aquarium!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

The feeling in the air today is electric. It is election day, and millions of Americans are casting their ballots, many for the very first time ever, to choose the direction in which our country will go. Never before have I felt such a sense of living through history in the making. This election has been an emotional roller coaster that has not ceased since it began. Instead it has increased and culminated into the adrenaline rush that is today.

I would like to take this moment to send out a pledge. If this election has done anything for me, it has invigorated my sense of belonging to this world and to my community here at home. It has reignited a sense of emotional attachment to the planet I stand on, and to the people whose footsteps reverberate in the soil we share. It has reminded me that we are all part of the same whole, and it has shown me that there is nothing greater than the power of people coming together and uniting in a common purpose.

Last night I had the extraordinary pleasure of meeting one of the most influential wildlife conservation heroes to have emerged in our time, Jane Goodall. Visitng the bay area for an annual event celebrating chimpanzees and conservation, I was granted the incredible opportunity to drive her and Mary Lewis (Vice President of the Jane Goodall Institute and assistant to Jane Goodall) around San Francisco and the East Bay, and finally to the event at which she was scheduled to speak. For the last fifty years Jane Goodall has been fighting for animal rights, for wildlife conservation, for better standards in zoos around the world, for primate awareness, for education and youth empowerment, for sustainable relationships between humans and the animals they share the world with, and at 74 years old she is still touring, filling every minute of her day to get the word out in an unceasing and tireless fight.

Me and Jane Goodall

I have never seen anyone put so much into something they believe in. As I lay in bed last night, I reflected on the intensity and focus humans are capable of, and what kind of results can be produced from that unparalleled kind of energy. Before my thoughts blended into dreams I remember breathing tremendously deep, hoping to inhale some of that energy from the air that surrounded me.

My fight is for the animals on this planet. My fight is to help them survive the tumultuous conditions we have created for them. My fight is to teach young people about animals, about the fragility of the earth and its ecosystems, to instill in them a sense of the beauty and splendor of its complexity and diversity. My fight is to inspire them to use the power they hold in their spirits to act in every way they can.

This is my pledge. I pledge to work harder than I ever have before for wildlife conservation. I pledge to do what’s necessary to get the message out. I pledge to not back down. This pledge is for all animals. I dedicate to them my blood and my breath, my sweat and my tears, my energy and my work.

Will you join me? I ask not for your money, but for you to understand the world needs you to care about it. It needs your time, it needs your attention, and it needs your heart. Please visit any of the links posted to the right to explore what is happening around the world, and to find out what animals are in dire need of assistance. There are people of all walks of life working in almost every corner of the globe to ensure that our footprint doesn’t crush the rare, vulnerable, and delicate life that make our planet as unique and beautiful as it is. Find out about what you can do to help. Find out what you shouldn’t buy. Find out what you should buy. Find out whom to support. Find out what the causes of species population declines are. Find out why insects are important. Find out why we should care about bees.

Find out what natural places surround your home and visit them. Find beauty, find life, and you will be surprised to find new parts of your soul you never knew existed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Jane Goodall Discusses Our Relationship With Apes

An excellent talk with Jane Goodall, primatologist, conservationist, wildlife hero.

Participate in Your Democracy


NO on Prop 8!!