A Road Runs Through It

At the heart of the Greater Kafue Ecosystem in Western Zambia is the 22,000-square-kilometer Kafue National Park. This is Zambia’s oldest and largest park, at twice the size of Yellowstone National Park in the USA. Kafue is home to a wide range of iconic wildlife, including elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, wild dogs, and Africa’s most diverse antelope community. This protected area faces many significant threats, but most concerning is the M9—a high-speed highway that bisects or borders 143 kilometers of the park and adjacent Mumbwa Game Management Area. The M9 is notorious for wildlife-vehicle collisions, including the death of 11 endangered African wild dogs to vehicle collisions in 2022. But the Center for Large Landscape Conservation is working to change this with a newly launched project. 

The Center Sponsors Book Tour of “CROSSINGS” Author Ben Goldfarb

Back in 2013, conservation journalist Ben Goldfarb toured the Highway 93 wildlife crossings on the Flathead Reservation with crossings expert Marcel Huijser, Center road ecologist Kylie Paul, and others. Little did he know that that day in Montana would send him on a journey to learn more about this world of wildlife crossings, culminating in his literary feat, CROSSINGS: How Road Ecology Is Shaping The Future of Our Planet. Roads are an omnipresent form of travel, but most humans neglect to recognize them as an obstruction to nature’s natural processes as they bisect habitats and fragment landscapes.

Leave the Light Off: Helping Out Migratory Birds

A cloud of slate gray stirring above the riverbed. The synchronous flapping of wings, eager and ready for the journey to the north. During this time of year, an estimated 3.5 billion birds take flight toward the northern U.S. and Canada as the spring migration is underway. During the long journey, they will have to contend with a pernicious source of pollution emanating from towns and cities: artificial light. Birds rely on light as an indicator of daily and seasonal change, and human light “pollution” can have serious negative effects on migrating birds, jeopardizing their ability to move safely through the night sky. 

​​​​Planning for Jaguar Habitat Connectivity in the Large Pantanal-Chaco Landscape of South America​

​​​As the world trends towards rapid and unchecked development, ​​protected areas pay the price by becoming more and more isolated.​​ ​​​​​ Case in point: the ​​​large region of South America that is covered by two ecosystems, the Pantanal (the largest tropical wetland) and the Gran Chaco (South America’s largest seasonally dry tropical forests)​ is at risk of encroachment and fragmentation​. The region—the size of Texas, California, and Montana combined—cover​s​​​ parts of four countries: Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, and is home to an amazing array of wildlife​,​ ​​including jaguars, giant anteaters, giant otters, tapirs, hyacinth macaws, caimans, and many more. 

Assessment Identifies Opportunities to Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions on US 89 North of Yellowstone

Roughly 50% of all highway accidents on US 89 north of Yellowstone National Park—between Livingston and Gardiner, Montana—are wildlife related. In response to this growing and dangerous problem, a locally led partnership called Yellowstone Safe Passages (YSP) just took a major step toward finding solutions by completing a comprehensive assessment of wildlife-vehicle collisions on this stretch of highway, conducted by the Center for Large Landscape Conservation and YSP partners.

New Push to Protect Endangered Asian Elephants from Roads and Railways

A century ago, an estimated 100,000 elephants roamed throughout Asia. Today, fewer than half that number of Asian elephants remain in just 13 countries. Among the reasons for this decline is the explosion of new roads, railways and other linear infrastructure across the continent. In fact, collisions with cars and trains are a leading cause of elephant mortality in India, and many more elephants are impacted by roads and railways, causing habitat loss and fragmentation. 

Where is the Love? When habitat fragmentation hinders the search for a mate

Many remarkable long-distance migrations of wildlife occur around the world every year to ensure that animals arrive at the right place at the right time for feeding, mating, and birthing. Meanwhile, shorter-distance movements, such as those of black bears, are less epic but no less important in the quest to find suitable mates, food, and den sites. But what happens when love is in the air, but movement becomes difficult due to habitat fragmentation? The short-term effect may be a missed connection, but in the long-term, it could reduce the genetic diversity that helps keep wildlife populations healthy.  

What We’re Reading: A Roundup of Book Recs from Our Staff

Submerging ourselves in different perspectives ultimately enriches our work, and nothing facilitates that like delving into a good book. As the bears take to their dens for a long winter’s nap, we nestle into armchairs with blankets and a book in our lap. I was curious what my fellow staff members were reading once the workday ceases, so I asked them what’s atop their nightstands. Some are about facets of our natural world and others may be for those times when we need a break from thinking about environmental challenges.

Field Notes from Kenya: Protecting Safe Passage for Elephants

The last time I was in Kenya, I flew home to the U.S. on March 3, 2020, blissfully unaware that the entire world was about to upend itself due to COVID-19. I had been living in Kisumu full-time, finishing my Master of Environmental Management degree, and only expected to spend three months in the U.S. for a short-term consulting gig and graduation. But those few months turned into a long-term move back and I secured a role with the Center for Large Landscape Conservation.

Researchers Identify Options to Reduce Wildlife-Vehicle Collisions on US-191 in Montana

The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is home to the largest concentration of wildlife in the lower 48 states. But as the numbers of area residents and annual visitors have grown, so has the incidence of wildlife-vehicle collisions. On US Highway 191 through and around Yellowstone National Park, large mammals like elk and deer are hit with increasing frequency and rising traffic volumes make it harder for wildlife to access habitat on either side. To address these problems, a team from the nonprofit Center for Large Landscape Conservation and Montana State University’s Western Transportation Institute embarked upon a two-year study to better understand wildlife movement and improve road safety along this busy route.

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