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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Center for Large Landscape Conservation is pleased to announce the addition of two staff members who are helping to lead our programmatic work in the U.S. and worldwide. Project Director Megan Parker and Senior Conservation Scientist Annika Keeley each bring an impressive array of accomplishments in the field of conservation. We are excited to have these two leaders on our team to further elevate our science, policy, and partnership work.
When we hear the term “ecological corridors” we tend to think of the natural pathways that land animals like elk or elephants use to move among larger natural areas to eat, drink, mate and meet other survival needs. Corridors are equally important for marine life like whales, turtles, fish, and seabirds, which depend on linkages between ocean areas for daily movement, seasonal migration, and completing their life cycles. Until recently, collaborative research and guidance on marine ecological connectivity had been lacking, but now the Center for Large Landscape Conservation is supporting coordination of work by a unique group of experts that is making the issue a top priority.
More than 20 speakers and nearly 200 attendees made history last week as participants in the first-of-its-kind gathering to share knowledge for making transportation infrastructure more sustainable across Asia. As many countries in the region expand their networks of roads, rails, and other modes of transportation, such development can provide vast economic and social benefits but also present challenges to nature conservation and local communities. Therefore, on December 16-17, 2021, the 1st Asia Transportation Ecology Forum was held to explore how this development is already impacting ecosystems—affecting species from butterflies to elephants—and how science-based solutions can be applied to conserve Asia’s rich biodiversity.
An international group of more than 25 elephant biologists and infrastructure ecologists released a report today with an urgent message: All efforts to avoid key Asian elephant habitats and their migration corridors need to be made when developing linear infrastructure like roads, railways, and canals. If this is not possible, wildlife crossings are key to providing safe passage for this endangered species. The report comes in response to an explosion of new linear infrastructure across Asia that is increasingly blocking elephant movement and leading to deadly collisions.