New Initiative Seeks to Connect Wild Spaces

WWF, the Center for Large Landscape Conservation and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas’ Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group today launched a new initiative to conserve nature’s connections: Wildlife Connect. The initiative aims to secure ecological connectivity, defined by the Convention on Migratory Species as the “unimpeded movement of species and the flow of natural processes that sustain life on Earth.” From great migrations of wildlife across landscapes and continents to river flows from mountain to sea, nature’s circulatory system of  connections is essential for a healthy planet. Yet they are rapidly disappearing, destabilizing ecosystems and the essential benefits they provide for us all.

Enhancing Connectivity Conservation in World Bank-led Programs

Imagine a young male jaguar in the tropical Central American forests looking for a mate. In theory, he could roam from Mexico to Argentina, ensuring that the genetic pool is mixed for a good continuation of the species. In practice, he would have to go through rivers and mountains, but also human-made obstacles such as roads, cities, agricultural fields and other open areas that hinder travel.

Advancing Connectivity Conservation at the Africa Protected Areas Congress

History was made this past summer at the first-ever Africa-wide gathering to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature. Hosted in the city of Kigali, Rwanda, the 1st IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) brought together 2,400 participants from across the continent and the world from July 18-23, 2022, under the theme “For People and Nature.” Staff from the Center for Large Landscape Conservation and partners were present in Kigali to highlight the contribution that connectivity conservation is already making, and can make in the future, toward bolstering conservation actions in Africa.

A Wild Encounter in a Borneo Rainforest

As an early-career conservationist, I have been immensely privileged to experience some genuinely fantastic wildlife encounters. I’ve assisted in the relocation of Rocky Mountain big horn sheep, collared mountain lions, and almost crashed into a hippo while biking in east Africa. However, none of these compare to my remarkable experience while visiting Borneo, Malaysia, in May.

The Center Launches Ape Protection Project in Asia and Africa

High above the ground, amidst the dense forest canopy cover of South and East Asia, you may be lucky enough to spot one of the most intriguing ape species on the planet. Gibbons live among the treetops and move by brachiating, or swinging with their arms. They can reach speeds upwards of 35 miles per hour (Usain Bolt’s maximum speed was 27 mph) and have been known to jump across gaps as large as 30 feet. Unfortunately, these fascinating and elusive apes are one of the most threatened families of primates, with 19 of the 20 species listed as endangered or critically endangered.

Inclusive Dialogues Advance Conservation Across the US-Canada Border

The Canada-US border is the longest international land border in the world. However, this political frontier bisects enormous landscapes and cuts through many Indigenous communities whose territories were historically connected. This political divide has important implications for conservation and cultural resilience—not just in the narrow ribbon of the border region, but for landscape connectivity throughout North America.

On the Trail of Oncilla in Costa Rica

People who are cat people know that cats have their own agenda. People who are dog people recognize that dogs want to share their agendas with you. We get to mix these agendas when working a detection dog to find scat from an elusive cat in Costa Rica. In the high forests of this beautiful country, hide a suite of cat species—from jaguar and cougar, to ocelot, margay and jaguarundi. And while always there, but rarely seen, is a small, spotted, nocturnal cat called oncilla. So little is known of this cat, that their scat—or poop—holds precious genetic information that can help us learn more about this declining species, and well… dogs are good at finding hard-to-find things and telling us about it.

Center Staff Members Visit Borneo for the 2nd Asia Parks Congress  

In May 2022, more than 1,200 participants—including four staff members from the Center for Large Landscape Conservation—from 49 countries gathered in the city of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia for the 2nd Asia Parks Congress (APC). Jointly convened by Sabah Parks and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), this APC paved the way for the conservation community to refocus and reinvigorate common objectives, as one of the first, large, in-person (and virtual) gatherings to be held in Asia since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Field Notes from Ecuador II: Balancing Rare Species Protections With Rural Livelihoods

A steady rain drenched us head to toe, and as it neared midnight I started to wonder when we would finally head back to camp. The herpetologists, though, were unconcerned with the elements. They scrambled up and down steep muddy slopes in search of reptile and amphibian specimens. In all likelihood, the fruits of their labor would be the discovery of species completely new to science! When the group finally called it quits for the night, the transect had yielded a half dozen frogs, a plump lizard, and a beautiful, non-venomous false coral snake to be documented and photographed.

Field Notes from Ecuador I: Exploring Connectivity Conservation in a Biodiversity Hotspot

This past weekend, I visited the newly established Parque Nacional Río Negro Sopladora, a national park that covers more than 30,000 hectares of undisturbed habitat in Ecuador, ranging from high peaks at 12,800 feet above sea level eastwards into the humid Amazon basin, at 2,600 ft. A highlight of hiking in this lesser-known park was seeing hours-fresh footprints of mountain tapir and a large cat (my guess is cougar). It was nice to finally get my boots muddy after two weeks in the city, getting situated in the country I will call home for a month and a half.

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