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. 

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. 

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. 

The Center Leads the Charge for Ecological Connectivity at UN Negotiations to Save Migratory Wildlife

They run. They fly. They swim. Migratory species from elephants to golden eagles to sea turtles cover vast distances and often cross borders to survive. In February 2024, the Center for Large Landscape Conservation joined countries, partners, and experts in the ancient Silk Road city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to increase commitments and contributions to conserve migratory wildlife and their habitats around the world. Under the motto “Nature Knows No Borders,” more than 1,000 participants attended the 14th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS/CoP-14), the first to be hosted in a Central Asian country.  

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.

Just Published: ‘Addressing Ecological Connectivity in the Development of Roads, Railways, and Canals’

The planet is experiencing unprecedented levels of land conversion and habitat loss, often in the most biologically rich ecosystems. Despite the well-known societal and economic benefits of infrastructure, indiscriminate development of roads, railways and canals increasingly threatens biodiversity. Endangered Asian elephants are regularly hit by trains; American bison are struck just outside Yellowstone National Park; and road construction opens the door to runaway deforestation, even deep in the Amazon Rainforest.

Exploring the Wonders of Central Asia: Field Expedition in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan’s “Mountain Ecosystems of Koytendag” (MEK) make up one of the most distinctive and richly biodiverse landscapes in Central Asia. However, the area faces mounting threats to its conservation, including agricultural expansion, overgrazing, illegal hunting, and unmanaged tourism. As part of our project ‘Connectivity, Capacity, and Cats: Building Resiliency in the Mountain Ecosystems of Koytendag,’ funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), national and international experts traveled around this extraordinary region from 5-11 April 2023. Among the goals was to help evaluate the possibility of it being officially designated as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.

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