Spring Wildlife Conservation Expo: Lessons Learned, Inspiration Gained
Want to watch our conservation partners in action? Links to their Expo presentations are available at the bottom of the page!
On April 29th, we hosted our second annual Spring Expo for the first time in beautiful Marin County, California. Hundreds of supporters braved the heat to hear presentations from five outstanding conservation partners in our network—Dr. Claudio Sillero from Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Project (EWCP), Dr. Laurie Marker from Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), Dr. Rachel Graham from MarAlliance (MAR), Peter Blinston from Painted Dog Conservation (PDC), and Robyn Appleton from Spectacled Bear Conservation (SBC).
The day began early, with people filtering in at 8:30am and staying well into the evening, giving conservationists a chance to talk about their work protecting wildlife with an eager audience, some of whom were long-term wildlife supporters, and some who were attending their very first Expo.
Protecting wildlife involves many approaches. Our partners enumerated these approaches to a rapt audience through examples of their work in the field. For instance, Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program shared with us that they were planning to reintroduce wolves to parts of Ethiopia outside their research areas in the Bale Mountains. These areas haven’t seen wolves for years, with most of them having gone extinct. With a worldwide population of less than 500 and none in captivity, this new initiative is critical to increase their range and produce more genetic diversity within the species.
Cheetah Conservation Fund continues to be a stronghold for cheetahs in Namibia and a global authority on cheetahs. Their livestock guard dog program has prevented many human-wildlife conflicts. From their latest findings, the program has helped reduce livestock killing (by carnivores—not just cheetahs but hyenas and lions too) by 80 percent, thanks to the brave dogs standing guard!
While science plays a major role in conservation efforts, so does working with local communities. In Belize, MarAlliance has undertaken the difficult task of changing the negative perceptions surrounding sharks by working directly with the local fisherman to educate them on how sharks are essential for a healthy ecosystem. Saving wildlife is a community wide effort and can only be successful if the people who live side by side with the animals also see value in saving them.
Painted Dog Conservation works with local Zimbabweans to rescue painted dogs from the dangers of snares and poaching through their anti-poaching unit, which employs members from the local villages. Indeed, PDC is one of the largest employers in their immediate area, with more than 70 locals earning an income on staff. By involving the local community in conservation efforts, they hope people will feel more accountable for the landscape and the animals that inhabit it.
Conservationists know to expect the unexpected. Some days they are conducting research and some days they’re flying by the seat of their pants, and dealing with unusual circumstances. Since November of last year, Spectacled Bear Conservation faced back-to-back natural disasters in their study area in northern Peru. First, a wildfire destroyed an area of Peru’s cloud forest that was bigger than Washington, DC and San Francisco combined. The SBC team, despite not being professional firefighters, risked their lives to help put out the flames, protecting the 100 or more bears living in that region. Immediately after the fires, massive flash-floods hit Peru, almost destroying the SBC headquarters. Sadly, much of the community suffered enormous losses. They are now rebuilding and implementing programs to prevent such disastrous outcomes in the future.
Outside of the presentations, we participated in the nationwide People’s Climate March by inviting attendees to share—via social media—their thoughts on how we can lower our carbon footprint and help ensure the future of wildlife.
A conservationist’s job is never mundane and no matter how many Expos you attend, there are always new updates to hear from the field.
Thank you to everyone who joined us at the Expo. We truly could not save wildlife without your help. Your support and passion inspires us to continue forging ahead to create a safer world for wildlife.
We hope you will join us for the Fall Wildlife Conservation Expo on October 14th!
Were you unable to make it to Expo? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out videos the presentations below: