October in San Francisco signals the return of many exciting events—Fleet Week, Oktoberfest, film festivals, street fairs, and more. It also signals the return of our flagship Wildlife Conservation Expo, providing wildlife enthusiasts with the opportunity to meet their conservation heroes in person. These conservation champions travel long distances—oftentimes from remote areas such as snow-clad Himalayan mountain villages and Southeast Asia’s tropical forests—to speak about protecting endangered species.
This year’s Expo was filled with fascinating presentations, hopeful conversations, and auditoriums filled to capacity with rapt audiences.
Here are just a few of our favorite Expo moments:
- We love hearing our Conservation Partners tell stories about their incredible efforts to save wildlife. This year was even better as many Partners brought their colleagues to the stage to give us an even stronger glimpse into the world of conservationists. Dr. Rodney Jackson from Snow Leopard Conservancy was accompanied by conservationist and WCN scholar Rinzin Lama, together they highlighted the challenges of studying and conserving the elusive snow leopard in its natural habitat, the steep and inhospitable mountains of Central Asia. John Lukas and Lucas Meers from Okapi Conservation Project shared rare footage of wild okapis from their new camera trap project. Rosamira Guillen and Johanna Vega from Proyecto Tití shared updates from their work to restore and connect forests, making it possible for cotton-top tamarins to expand their ability to find food, shelter, and mates. Browse all the videos from our partner talks below:
- Watch Dr. Rodney Jackson from Snow Leopard Conservancy and Rinzin Lama
- Watch John Lukas and Lucas Meers from Okapi Conservation Project
- Watch Rosamira Guillen and Johanna Vega of Proyecto Tití
- Watch Frank Pope of Save the Elephants
- Watch Dr. Colleen Begg of Niassa Lion Project
- Watch Dr. Shivani Bhalla of Ewaso Lions
- Watch Peter Blinston and David Kuvawoga of Painted Dog Conservation
- Watch Sheila Funnell and Peter Lalampaa of Grevy’s Zebra Trust
- Three new guest speakers took to the stage for the first time: Dr. Olivier Nsengimana from the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association shared stories about his childhood fascination with the elegant grey crowned cranes and how they shaped his life’s mission to protect and restore their dwindling populations. Arjun Srivathsa from the Wildlife Conservation Society-India advocated passionately on behalf of the much maligned and little-known dhole—also known as Asiatic wild dog—shedding light on their importance to their native ecosystems. Elisa Panjang from the Danau Girang Field Center in Malaysia spoke about the successes and challenges of protecting pangolins, the most trafficked mammal in the world. The esteemed Dr. Jane Goodall surprised Expo guests (and WCN staff) by joining Elisa’s presentation via video conference. She implored the audience to be a voice for pangolin protection and invited them to join her at Expo in 2019. Listen to our guest speakers on Youtube:
- In From Crisis to Recovery, Andrea Heydlauff of African Parks gave a moving talk about the success of their recent initiative to reintroduce lions, elephants, and cheetahs into the Liwonde National Park in Malawi; the park had been empty of cheetahs for 20 years and lions for 10 years prior to their restoration efforts. Thandiwe Mweetwa of the Zambian Carnivore Programme, also a WCN scholar and National Geographic Explorer, enumerated the resilience of the carnivores she strives to save through an incredible story of her team’s quick intervention to save a distressed and injured lion from a wire snare. The snare was wrapped around the lion’s neck, tightening each time the lion struggled to remove it. Thandi and her team were able to respond quickly to remove the snare and treat his injuries, within a week the lion had recovered. The lion’s resilience and Thandi’s team’s quick action was a hopeful message. Catch the talks from this presentation here:
- In Empowering Conservation Heroes, our Conservation Partners—Dr. Claudio Sillero of Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program, Dr. Rachel Graham of MarAlliance, Rebecca Klein of Cheetah Conservation Botswana—and WCN scholar Artistide Kamla of the African Marine Mammal Conservation Organization shared how being part of the WCN Network has helped them strengthen critical skills such as grant writing and project management, enabling them to better protect wildlife. Listen to each of the speakers on this panel below:
Our most favorite Expo moment, however, was seeing the many incredible connections being made between wildlife supporters and conservationists. Over 1,200 people from all over the U.S., and some from outside the country, came to Expo and over 60 conservation organizations, large and small, exhibited their work to curious attendees. This spirit of community and collaboration is vital if we are to create a safe and secure future for the many species we all cherish and the many species that are seldom heard about.
We hope you enjoyed the Fall Expo as much as we enjoyed hosting it. If you were unable to attend or would like to revisit the presentations, you can watch them by clicking the links above as well as on our YouTube page.