Cool Ways to Help
As if African elephants didn’t have enough to worry about, habitat loss is yet another key issue affecting their survival. Although elephant populations have increased since the 1970s, the human population has grown even more quickly, cutting the elephants’ habitat up into farms and roads. The elephants’ key migratory routes have been cut off in many places. As result, they regularly break through fences, where they eat and destroy crops. When the farmers confront elephants on their property, things don’t generally end well for either party.
Lucy King, a researcher working with Save the Elephants, has spent many years investigating the problems involved in crop protection. Her goal is to find long-term solutions that reduce the frequency of human-elephant conflicts—and that can be financed and managed by local farmers.
As Ms. King looked into the elephants’ habits for any clues to keeping them out of fields planted with crops, she noticed that they tended to avoid acacia trees with active nests of African bees. Elephants, it so happens, are afraid of the bees, and will move away from an area and warn other elephants if they hear bees buzzing nearby.
And so the beehive fence was invented. Read more…
Given the popularity of certain prescriptive posts on ConservationBytes.com, I thought it prudent to compile a list of software that my lab and I have found particularly useful over the years. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but it will give you a taste for what’s out there. I don’t list the plethora of conservation genetics software that is available (generally given my lack of experience with it), but if this is your chosen area, I’d suggest starting with Dick Frankham‘s excellent book, An Introduction to Conservation Genetics.
Ever since we started the O’Reilly Animals project last summer, people have been asking how they can really help. Although there are a number of ways to bring your tech skills to bear on behalf of non-profit conservation organizations—by designing websites, setting up databases, and developing mobile apps that enable crowdsourcing, among other things—there’s no substitute for walking in the shoes of the people working hands-on in the wild.
Wildlife ACT, a non-profit conservation organization working in Zululand, is currently accepting applications for their volunteer program. Wildlife ACT monitors wildlife on reserves that don’t have the resources to do it themselves—and the volunteers actively participate in the work. The fees paid by the volunteers fund Wildlife ACT’s projects. Read more…
Prison inmates help endangered frogs and butterflies—and themselves.
In Washington State, the Evergreen State College and the Washington Department of Corrections have implemented the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP), a program that offers prison inmates the opportunity to participate in conservation, scientific research, and sustainability projects. According to the SPP website, the inmates are introduced to educational and employment opportunities that they may pursue after release, reducing recidivism.
In early 2009, SPP partnered with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on a project to restore endangered Oregon spotted frogs, which are declining due to loss of habitat and predation by exotic bullfrogs. The project involves raising the frogs in captivity until they are mature enough to be released into the wild. Read more…
It looks, to quote a source no less sober than National Geographic, like a walking artichoke. It is a mammal with no teeth. A mammal entirely covered in scales. A mammal covered in scales made from keratin, the same substance that produces human fingernails, human hair. Like a human, it is a carnivore. Like an anteater, it is a carnivore. Like an anteater, it consumes thousands of ants and plump yummy termites at a time. And like a rhino or even a tiger, it is nearly extinct.
Bearded Seal or alien spaceship? Exotic Bird or R2D2? It’s a tough call.The world’s largest collection of natural sounds can be found in the archives of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library. Over the past 80 years, more than 165,000 recordings of birds, bats, whales, insects, frogs, elephants, and other animals have been collected. The entire archive is now digitized and available online for public listening and viewing. And you can help them expand the archive with your own recordings.
Posting on their Facebook page this Wednesday, Jan. 30, the Wildlife ACT Fund let it be known that they could use some web support.
And what would a helpful WordPress genius get in return for his or her hard tech toil? Oh, just two weeks at one of the Wildlife ACT project sites in South Africa.
According to said site (it’s not that ugly!) the Wildlife ACT Fund exists to:
* Find and fund the right equipment needed for effective and meaningful monitoring
* Deliver time and expertise to reintroduce these species into new ranges
* Implement anti-poaching measures and technology in the field
* Conduct community outreach, conservation education and economic development
Among their projects is the use of technology in anti-poaching campaigns. Black Rhino, cheetahs, leopards, Painted Dogs and other endangered species are tagged with collars that sense when the animals are unusually still or are separated from others. The collars, intended to detect a poacher’s snare, send out emergency distress signals that lead field scientists to the threatened creature.