This year’s Wildlife Conservation Expo ended on Saturday, capping off two weekends packed with amazing wildlife stories and engaging interactions with conservationists from around the world. Expo is always the time of year that we look forward to the most, and our Network’s conservationists outdid themselves with stellar presentations about their vital work to protect your favorite endangered animals. To showcase these conservationists’ stories during the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, we hosted a two-day virtual Expo and were so excited to see many old friends and new viewers join us remotely. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest moments from this fall’s Expo!
If you couldn’t attend our virtual Expo this year, or if you simply want to relive some of your favorite moments, here’s some of the best highlights:
- Expo’s virtual format allowed so many people to tune in from all over the globe. Our Conservation Partners and Wildlife Funds, along with some incredible guest speakers, delivered captivating presentations about their conservation work. This year’s turnout was spectacular, with so many attendees from over 70 countries joining us to learn about more than 70 wildlife species! From Ecuador to Germany to Singapore, wildlife enthusiasts from all over viewed both days of Expo and took part in extended Q&A sessions with over 80 conservationists.
- We also unveiled our newest endeavor—the California Wildlife Program (CWP), WCN’s first ongoing North American project. The CWP’s mission is to restore and connect fragmented habitat in California ecosystems, focusing on protecting vulnerable puma populations. While pumas will act as the flagship species of this new program, the CWP will also benefit many other wildlife species that share the same habitat as pumas, such as foxes, owls, and salamanders. Neal Sharma, Senior Manager of the CWP, gave an in-depth talk about the program’s first major successes and outlined the future of the CWP’s work to protect pumas.
- Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, made an appearance and held a touching discussion with Sheila Funnell, Director of Impact and Operations at Grevy’s Zebra Trust, and Charles Knowles, President and Co-Founder of WCN. Together, they discussed the state of conservation and reflected on their long careers protecting wildlife. Dr. Goodall also talked about her lifelong passion for conservation, what it takes to make positive change for wildlife and local communities, and how young people who are interested in conservation can take their first steps down that path. It was a hopeful, thoughtful take on all of the work we still need to accomplish, and as always, WCN is grateful to Dr. Goodall both for joining Expo and for her invaluable contributions to conservation.
- The lineup of guest speakers at this fall’s Expo was quite extensive and featured some amazing conservationists, who shared stories about their work protecting a truly diverse array of species. Speakers from Sea Sense, MareCet, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust, Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association, Macaw Recovery Network, Hirola Conservation Program, and Small Mammal Conservation Organization taught us about sea turtles, dolphins, dugongs, whales, tigers, grey crowned cranes, great green macaws, hirola antelope, and bats. We also had Melissa Arias, a former WCN Scholar, talk about her research of the illegal jaguar trade in Latin America and her work to promote jaguar conservation. WCN is always thrilled to welcome fellow conservationists to Expo so they can share tales about new wildlife with our community.
- All of our Conservation Partners and Wildlife Funds are dedicated to restoring and protecting key habitats for wildlife, with some going so far as to purchase land to ensure it stays protected for good. Proyecto Tití (PT) has recently purchased 185 acres of land, expanding Colombia’s Los Titíes de San Juan Forest Reserve to 650 acres of protected cotton-top tamarin habitat; to date, PT has helped protect over 13,000 acres of land. Spectacled Bear Conservation is working to purchase over 2,000 acres of land in Peru to secure key habitat for fragmented bear populations, increasing their chances of surviving and thriving. And one of the California Wildlife Program’s first major actions was the purchase of 540 acres of land in San Benito County that will help connect California’s puma populations. By purchasing and creating private, protected reserves for wildlife, these conservationists are providing safe habitat that will endure in perpetuity.
- Global Penguin Society announced that they are currently filming a new documentary in Argentina and New Zealand to inspire the next generation of penguin conservationists. This upcoming film will follow Dr. Pablo Borboroglu and his team as they take their penguin conservation work around the globe and explore how his childhood love of these marine birds helped him dedicate 30 years of his life to studying and protecting them.
Above all, the entire WCN staff sends a heartfelt thanks to YOU and everyone who attended this fall’s Expo. Without your continued support, none of these amazing conservation wins would be possible. Your dedication to conservation drives our efforts to protect endangered wildlife and expand our impact every year, and Expo is that special time of year to really showcase just how much we have achieved together. We hope you were just as floored by the tremendous gains we’ve made for wildlife as we were, and that you had a blast reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
If you missed any presentations or want to rewatch your favorites, all of this year’s Expo Talks can be found here.
Thanks again for joining us at Expo, and for being such an important member of our community. We’ll see you again at Spring Expo!