Category Archives: Conservation

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geo Offers Late Summer Galapagos Trips with Free Airfare and Opportunities to Participate in Conservation

Snorkeling with sea turtles is one of the highlights of Lindblad-National Geographic's Galapagos trip. Late summer departures also include special opportunities to participate in conservation, as well as take advantage of free airfare from Miami.
Snorkeling with sea turtles is one of the highlights of Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s Galapagos trip. Late summer departures also include special opportunities to participate in conservation, as well as take advantage of free airfare from Miami.

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic has launched their first, annual celebration of conservation in Galápagos –Conservation in Action |Galapagos – a series of late summer departures that will offer guests an enriched conservation experience and the “credentials” to make them a first-class Galápagos ambassador.

Lindblad is committed to protecting the pristine archipelago, and has raised with their guests more than $6 million to support conservation and education programs in the region through the Lindblad-National Geographic Fund (LEX-NG Fund). Conservation in Action |Galapagos was created with the initial goal of raising $250,000 for a new conservation initiative that will complement their long-standing stewardship efforts – while educating guests about the various programs available.

Now, guests can make a personal impact while having an extraordinary time:  Lindblad will donate $1,000 per person towards Galápagos conservation for any new reservation made for travel to Galápagos from August 15 to September 26, 2015.   Guests can also take advantage of free roundtrip air from Miami to Galapagos during those dates (up to $1,250 per guest value), valid on new bookings only and subject to availability.

In addition to the hallmark highlights of a Galapagos expedition – snorkeling with sea turtles, penguins, and sea lions; hikes among colonies of wildlife and birds unfazed by your presence; observing rare giant tortoises in the wild, and exploring the waters of the Galápagos by kayak, glass-bottom boat, or Zodiac, Conservation in Action |Galapagos guests will have the opportunity to:

  •  Transform trash into treasure to support local artisans. Guests will work with our Paper to Pearls team to learn an engaging, purposeful skill that benefits the human community of Galápagos—and make beautiful beads out of paper for artisans to turn into jewelry for local sale.
  •  Meet artist-in-residence Carlyn Iverson, an accomplished natural history artist/instructor, on board National Geographic Endeavour to learn how to truly see and represent the creatures of Galápagos. Carlyn will hold drawing classes in the field—the only place on Earth where wild animals calmly pose for their portrait—and provide expert instruction during the expedition. (on the August 21, 28; September 4, 11, 18, 25 departures.)
  •  See Galápagos’ nature through the lens of your camera. Become a conservation ambassador for Galápagos and share  the wonders with the world—your personal community of friends, family, and social groups—through your photos with our Lindblad-National Geographic certified photo instructor. Develop your talents, or learn new skills, as well.

Rates for the 10 day/9 night voyages aboard the 96-guest National Geographic Endeavour begin at $6,290 per person and on the 48-guest National Geographic Islander at $6,760 per person based on double occupancy in a category 1 cabin.

For reservations or additional information on Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic voyages to some of the most beautiful and fascinating places on Earth, visit expeditions.com, call 1-800-EXPEDITION (1-800-397-3348) or contact your travel advisor.

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Senators Introduce Bill to Expand John Muir National Historic Site, California

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (both D-CA) have introduced legislation to expand the Martinez, California historic site that celebrates the life and legacy of John Muir. The John Muir National Historic Site Expansion Act would authorize the National Park Service to acquire land that is being donated through a trust, which would improve access to the park and provide more for visitors to see and do at the site.

“John Muir was the father of the National Park Service and he worked tirelessly to preserve our country’s public lands for future generations,” Senator Boxer said. “This bill will honor his legacy by improving public access to this historic site, providing more for visitors to do, and connecting the site to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.”

“With the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, it would be a fitting tribute to honor John Muir by expanding the site where he lived, wrote and brought to life the conservation movement.  Today we have over 400 National Parks, and I am honored to represent the place where this idea was born and where it developed into a model to be copied throughout the world,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11).

Although the land is being donated by the Muir Heritage Land Trust, Congressional approval of the acquisition is necessary because the acreage of the donated land parcel exceeds the percentage of land that the Park Service is allowed to acquire administratively.

The 44-acre addition would include lands once part of the estate of John Swett, a former California Superintendent of Public Education who helped found the California Teachers Association, and was a neighbor and friend to John Muir in the Alhambra Valley Hills.

Muir is considered the “father of the National Park Service.” He was a lifelong conservationist who helped create Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, and was a founder of the Sierra Club.  The John Muir National Historic Site, which stretches across 330 acres currently, includes the home where Muir lived until he died in 1914.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) joined Boxer and DeSaulnier as an original cosponsor of the legislation.

Former Congressman George Miller (D-Martinez) first introduced the bill on November 13, 2014, and it passed the House in December 2014.

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African Bicycle/Train Safari Offers Unique View of Namibian Conservation Efforts

BikeToursDirect is offering a safari of Namibia by bicycle and train to learn first-hand about "the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told."
BikeToursDirect is offering a safari of Namibia by bicycle and train to learn first-hand about “the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told.”

Travelers will soon be able to see Namibia’s leading conservation efforts and diverse wildlife from two unique perches—the saddle of a bike and the comfort of their private chartered train, the Desert Express. On this Namibia Bike and Train Tour, offered through BikeToursDirect, based in Chattanooga, TN, they’ll also learn first-hand from conservation leaders why the World Wildlife Fund has called Namibia “the greatest wildlife recovery story ever told.”

During the 12-night tour, which departs August 11, 2015, from Nambia’s capital city of Windhoek, travelers will experience the country’s vast beauty while enjoying the highest standards of comfort and service. They will visit the Fish River Canyon (Africa’s longest), traverse the apricot colored dunes of the Namib Desert, and have the chance to see mountain zebras and desert elephants, along with giraffes, rhinos and lions.

“It’s probably the most impressive and memorable setting I’ve cycled in,” says Jim Johnson, president of BikeToursDirect. He recently biked in some of the same areas this tour explores: “The landscapes were breathtaking: vast deserts with some of the tallest sand dunes in the world, remote coastlines, and deep chasms offset by towering mountains.

“And this tour will transcend even that amazing experience. You’ll get to see Namibia’s unique landscapes and extensive wildlife from the unique vantage points of bicycle and train, and it’s a rare opportunity to spend time with many of the individuals responsible for making the country such a conservation success story. It will be the trip of a lifetime.”

After cycling each day, tour participants sleep on the train or in scenic lodges along the route.  The train travels the longer distances during the night, making it possible to see more of the country and allowing plenty of time during the day for bike trips.

Two knowledgeable guides accompany the participants aboard the train and on each day’s easy rides, which average less than 25 miles/40 km per day, and a support vehicle is always nearby to shorten the riding or give a helping hand. Participants may also choose to stay aboard the train, a great option for non-cycling companions who sign up for the tour.

Throughout the tour visit, participants will meet many key players behind Namibia’s conservation success story, including John Kasaona, a leader in the drive to reinvent conservation in Namibia by turning former poachers into protectors of endangered species.

Participants will also hear how tourism has made the country’s conservation success possible by generating sustainable income for local communities—and why their travel here helps improve the lives of the nation’s people and save the lives of its wildlife.

The Desert Express holds a maximum of 48 guests in 24 compartments, each accommodating up to three passengers. Each compartment is fully air-conditioned and heated and has a private bathroom. Passengers can also relax in an elegant lounge, a unique bistro bar and a spacious restaurant that will serve the best in Namibian cuisine. Expansive windows throughout the train help travelers experience the full Namibian views.

Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution, and the government gave people living in communal areas the opportunity to manage their natural resources through the creation of communal conservancies. These conservancies – as well as governments, nonprofit organizations and other entities – have restored populations of lions, cheetahs, black rhinos, zebras and other native wildlife to the world’s richest dry land. Through initiatives such as ecotourism, restoration has generated sustainable income for their communities.

This tour is among the 4 bicycle tours in Namibia and  15 on the continent of Africa currently offered by BikeToursDirect.

BikeToursDirect serves as a central resource for bicycle tours worldwide, representing 125 tour companies with over 500 tours in 71 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. BikeToursDirect offers a variety of resources to help travelers search for and choose tours and handles the entire booking and payment process. Learn more at http://www.biketours.com.

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Natural Habitat Adventures Introduces “Namibia: In Search of the Desert Rhino” Safari Expedition

NatHabitat-Namibia3Natural Habitat Adventures has created a safari expedition for travelers to learn about Namibia’s endangered black rhinoceros

BOULDER, CO– Natural Habitat Adventures has created a safari expedition led by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) scientists and rhino conservation experts for travelers to learn about Namibia’s endangered black rhinoceros.

Namibia: In Search of the Desert Rhino, offered this fall and next, provides a chance to track this rare animal that survives in the Namib Desert, one of the harshest environments on Earth. The trip is the second in the “In Search Of” series developed by Nat Hab and WWF, which began in 2013 with “In Search of the Snow Leopard” in Mongolia.

Guests will travel alongside local researchers, WWF experts and personnel from Save the Rhino Trust, learning firsthand about crucial measures WWF has pioneered in tandem with local community groups to protect the desert rhino and other threatened species. With the support of the Namibian government, such efforts have made Namibia a global conservation leader.

“These are unprecedented opportunities to meet with experts that have been arranged specifically for this trip and are not included on any standard Namibia safari,” said Ben Bressler, founder and president of Nat Hab.

The desert rhino remains critically endangered because of rising demand for rhino horn, largely among Asian consumers who believe it has value in folk remedies; this has driven poaching to record levels.

The new 10-day safari starts at $9,895 per person, double (single supplement $2,295) with departures Sept. 29 and Oct. 17, 2015 and 2016. The rate includes scheduled light aircraft flights, accommodations, airport transfers, meals, non-alcoholic drinks at camps and in vehicles, house alcoholic beverages in camps, services of a Nat Hab Expedition Leader, local guides and lodge staff, some gratuities, all permits, entrance fees and taxes. See: http://www.nathab.com/africa/namibia-in-search-of-the-desert-rhino/

Guests, limited to 12 per trip, will track the desert rhino and other desert-adapted species, including elephant, by vehicle and on foot throughout Namibia’s vast wilderness expanses. Varied habitats, from the arid wastes of Damaraland to the savannas and saltpans of Etosha, sustain a surprisingly diverse and vital wildlife population.

Private reserves, such as the Palmwag and Ongava concessions, are central to the experience. From the Ongava Reserve adjacent to popular Etosha National Park guests can view an abundance of wildlife without the presence of other visitors. Certain activities prohibited in national parks are offered as well, such as guided bush walks for an intimate perspective on the landscape and its wild inhabitants, and night drives in search of nocturnal animals.

One of Namibia’s top naturalist guides, Franco Morao, guides this special safari. A Namibia native, he has worked at camps and lodges throughout the country and holds a Level 3 national guiding certificate, the highest achievement possible in Namibia. In addition, as with all Nat Hab Expedition Leaders, Franco has received additional resources and training provided by WWF’s leading scientists, including those on the forefront of rhino conservation.

Guests travel in light aircraft, private mini vans, and top-of-the-line 4×4 safari vehicles with a window seat for each person. Flight transfers between destinations maximize time with wildlife. Accommodations are a highlight in their own right, with a focus on isolated, small-scale luxury camps featuring spacious individual tents with private verandas for secluded viewing.

The safari begins and ends in Namibia’s capital, Windhoek. From here guests travel to Desert Rhino Camp in the heart of the private million-acre Palmwag Concession in far-northwest Namibia. Few safari locales offer the privacy and isolation found amidst this expansive tract of desert wilderness. Several freshwater springs support healthy populations of wildlife including the camp’s namesake and the trip’s primary focus — the desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis). The largest, free-ranging black rhino population anywhere in the world lives here, as well as desert-adapted elephant, endemic Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, oryx, springbok and greater kudu. Namibia’s second-largest predator population thrives here, too, with more than 100 lion, cheetah, leopard and hyena. Birds are also abundant, including a number of southern African endemics.

Nat Hab and WWF have been working together since 2003 to provide conservation travel adventures exemplified by the “In Search Of” series.

“Twelve clients signed up for the first exploratory trip, and together with some of the world’s foremost snow leopard experts they journeyed to the far-western edge of Mongolia to visit two national parks where WWF Mongolia is performing important snow leopard research. Our guests were so moved by the experience that they came home and raised more than $20,000 for further snow leopard research in the region,” said Bressler, who hopes that this trip will similarly raise awareness about the black rhinoceros.

Natural Habitat Adventures is a world leader in responsible adventure travel and nature-based ecotourism. Since its founding in 1985, the company has offered eco-conscious expeditions and wildlife-focused small-group tours to the planet’s most remarkable nature destinations. Inspired and created from years of scouring the planet for the singular and extraordinary, Nat Hab’s itineraries are artfully crafted experiences that are far from “typical.” Trips are guided by professional naturalist Expedition Leaders, and Nat Hab enjoys a longstanding reputation for hiring some of the world’s best guides. Conservation is at the forefront of everything NHA does, and its philosophy is simple: tourism must work with and benefit local communities, which will in turn find value in protecting natural resources and wildlife. NHA is proud to be the travel partner of World Wildlife Fund, sharing a mutual commitment to travel as a means of helping to protect the world’s wondrous natural places.

For trip information, descriptive itineraries, date availability and reservations, call 800.543.8917 or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the 2015 catalog.

 

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From Brazil to Borneo, Wild Planet Adventures Reveals Five Wildlife Travel Secrets for 2015

Wild Planet Adventures picks Zambia for one of its top up-and-coming destinations in 2015: Zambia is the birthplace of the walking safari and home to Africa’s best canoe safari, on the Zambezi River at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mana Pools.
Wild Planet Adventures picks Zambia for one of its top up-and-coming destinations in 2015: Zambia is the birthplace of the walking safari and home to Africa’s best canoe safari, on the Zambezi River at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mana Pools.

SAUSALITO, CA,–The experts at five-time National Geographic Traveler magazine “world’s best” award winner, Wild Planet Adventures (http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/) share their secrets for the five upcoming destinations for wildlife enthusiasts for 2015: Brazil, Borneo, India, Thailand and Zambia.

Over the last year, each of these countries has triumphed over a challenge, undergone a shift or revealed a special secret relevant to wildlife travel, according to Josh Cohen, founder of Wild Planet Adventures.

1) India’s Remote Assam Region: #1 Up & Coming Wildlife Destination for 2015 – In India’s northeast, the Assam region (between Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet and China) is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines encompassing two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the national parks of Manas and Kaziranga.

The secret, says wildlife expert Cohen: “Kaziranga’s huge concentrations of game rivals many parks in Africa. On safari here it’s typical to see over 40 Rhino, several herds of wild Elephant, up to 500 Ungulate and perhaps even a Tiger, all in your field of vision at once!”  With Wild Planet’s sustainable protocols, guests track Tigers by listening to warning cries, looking for pug marks and tracking kills, “which creates a more authentic, exciting and participatory wildlife safari experience.”  For trip details see: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/destinations/?country=india

2) Brazil – The #1 Hot Travel Destination for 2015 – The World Cup and Olympic exposure have catapulted Brazil to the top of Wild Planet Adventure’s list of MOST popular destinations for 2015. The combination of safaris to spot Jaguar in the Pantanal (averaging nearly two sightings per day) with the wonders of the Amazon have created unprecedented demand. Many of fazienda (horse-ranch lodges) in the Pantanal report they are already nearly sold out for the 2015 season.

The secret? “Interested travelers MUST make their reservations now for the 2015 peak jaguar viewing season that starts in early July and continues through the end of October,” says Cohen. Wild Planet’s itinerary also includes a Primate Program designed by a primatologist to view rare primates in the Amazon, plus options for Iguassu Falls, Rio and more. For trip details see: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/destinations/?country=brazil

3) Thailand’s Secret Wildlife Sanctuaries Bordering Myanmar Are Now Open to US Travelers – The secret is that Wild Planet Adventures is the only US operator bringing guests to Kaeng Krachan National Park and Klong Seang Wildlife Sanctuary, the two best national parks in Thailand for exotic wildlife encounters. Kaeng Krachan is the largest and least visited national park in Thailand, with the most volume of wildlife of any park in the region. Nestled up against the remote mountains at Myanmar’s border, safaris in Kaeng Krachan are done by 4WD Jeep and by foot, both day and night. The park is home to Tiger, Black Leopard, Wild Elephant, Asiatic Black Bear, Gibbon, Langur, Slow Loris, six species of Hornbill and more. Klong Seang is a wildlife sanctuary on the far northeast corner of a 185 sq. km. lake, where Cohen’s team brings guests by long-tail boat and kayak (for silent approach to the animals) from their base at a spectacular floating aqua-lodge. Klong Seang is known for its healthy populations of Guar and is home to the extremely rare Clouded Leopard as well as Wild Boar, Wild Elephant, Monitor Lizard, and other animals. Most travelers combine these parks with a few days of culture and an elephant camp in Chiang Mai and end their trip with snorkeling on Thailand’s best islands. For trip details see: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/destinations/?country=thailand&trip=hidden-thailand-14-day-eco-tour

4) Borneo –2014 May Have Been the Year We Saved the Most Human of All Primates – The demand for palm oil (in roughly 60 percent of all goods on today’s supermarket shelves) has brought to near extinction Borneo’s population of Orangutan, the “holy grail” for wildlife travelers.

However, the secret is that, “In 2014 manufacturers responsible for producing nearly 60% of the world’s palm oil pledged to use responsible forest-friendly practices. This is a major breakthrough that will help preserve what’s left of the critically threatened habitat for endangered wild Orangutan populations.”

In Cohen’s experience, “There is not another animal alive more capable of creating the magical connection between traveler and wild animal than the Orangutan. It’s what wildlife lovers dream of. That’s not surprising, considering this great ape is one of humankind’s closest relatives, sharing 97% of our DNA. They are born with the ability to reason and think and considered to be one of the smartest mammals on Earth. Nevertheless, many travelers are completely unprepared for just how deeply touched they are by Orangutan displays of love, nurturing young, playfulness and courtship.”

The majority of visitors to Borneo only see Orangutan at rescue centers; however Wild Planet specializes in authentic expeditions to see these great apes in the wild, as well as Borneo’s other exotic wildlife including the Proboscis Monkey, Bornean Gibbon, Pygmy Elephant, Tarsier and Slow Loris. One of the world’s top five dive locations, the Sipadan reef in the Celebes Sea, is a must-see ending for any trip to Borneo. See: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/destinations/?country=borneo&trip=weird-wonderful-wildlife-12-day-borneo

5) Zambia Is the Prime Destination for African Safaris Due to its Safety from Ebola – Demand for African safaris exploded in 2014 to an all-time high. However, the recent Ebola crises took wind out of the safari sails.

The secret: “While fewer people are traveling to Africa for safari because of the Ebola fear, Zambia is 100% clear of the crisis and located 5,300km from the nearest Ebola outbreak; flights to Zambia do not stop in Ebola affected zones and Zambia was one of the first countries to ban travelers from affected areas in order to protect its safari economy,” says Cohen. “Zambia couldn’t be more safe.”

Zambia’s remoteness and multitude of eco-systems also offer significant advantages over more commercial safaris in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania or other Africa countries.  It’s the birthplace of the walking safari and home to Africa’s best canoe safari (on the Zambezi River at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mana Pools). Wild Planet offers a multitude of award-winning Zambia safari options including walking, canoeing and jeep safaris with legendary master guides. See: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/destinations/?country=zambia

For detail tour itineraries, availability and booking information, call 800-990-4376, visit www.wildplanetadventures.com or contact [email protected].

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Project Launched to Save Greenland’s Buried Archeological Artifacts Threatened by Climate Change

National Museums of Denmark and Greenland have formed a coalition to save archaeological treasures – bones, metal and wood captured and preserved in ice in Greenland – endangered by melting ice due to global warming.

The coalition is mapping out which areas are most threatened by climate change and an interactive map that pinpoints which areas are especially at risk and so should be given first priority by archaeologists.

Kitchen middens are getting particular focus because they contain valuable evidence of how Greenlanders have lived for thousands of years. If the ice encapsulating the kitchen middens melts, the potential finds will be exposed to air and will eventually rot. The artifacts are also at risk of being swept away by meltwater or covered by new tree and plant growth.

To pinpoint which finds and areas are most affected by climate change, researchers have filled several freezers in the Danish National Museum with samples from kitchen middens found all over Greenland. The researchers’ next job is to measure the oxygen consumption of each piece of wood, bone and metal, which has been collected, at different temperatures, in order to determine which materials are most affected by increasing temperatures. The results will provide the foundation for the interactive map and the mission to rescue as much of Greenland’s buried treasures as possible.

For more information, Visit Greenland, Greenland.com, [email protected].

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House Passage of Key Legislation Positions Senate for Approving Most Significant Expansion of National Park System in Decades

The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (NY) is one of the areas that would continue to get funding, if legislation that already passed the House passes the Senate © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (NY) is one of the areas that would continue to get funding, if legislation that already passed the House passes the Senate © 2014 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that includes provisions that could mean the most significant National Park System expansion in decades.  If passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law, the legislation will carry with it the establishment of seven new National Park units, the expansion of nine national park sites, and the extension of 15 National Heritage Areas, effectively shaking loose a five-year stalemate on public lands measures in Congress.

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), numerous local communities, local businesses, and scientists have spent years advocating for many of the new and expanded parks included in this legislation.

“If signed into law, this legislation will protect places taken right out of the pages of our history and science books,” said Clark Bunting, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association.  “From the sites associated with the Manhattan Project to the legacy of Harriet Tubman in New York and Maryland to the North Fork Watershed in Montana and Ice Age fossils in Nevada, these are stories that deserve to be told in the name of strengthening our country’s best idea.  And these are places that deserve to be preserved for all Americans to experience.”

Many of the proposed new and expanded national park sites would further diversify the National Park System, including the Tule Springs site which is less than 30 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip and would offer a significant opportunity for an urban community to visit a fossil-rich national park.  Many will permanently protect places that played key roles in our nation’s history, including the historic Gettysburg train station where President Abraham Lincoln arrived to deliver his seminal Gettysburg Address.  And many of these sites would provide visitors with a richer adventure, including the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve where the watershed and marble caves will be protected.

This public lands package is monumental in terms of expanding our national park system, however NPCA remains mindful that it is not perfect.

“While this legislation includes two dozen bills that will enhance our national heritage and highlight our collective history, from innovation to science and nature, it also includes provisions that could harm our natural resources.  It is those provisions that are of concern to us, both as park advocates and as conservationists.  However, the gains we make for our parks, their communities and their visitors will have lasting effects for our nation,” said Theresa Pierno, Chief Operating Officer, National Parks Conservation Association.

 

National Parks Package of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015

 

New National Park Units

1. Blackstone (RI)

2. Coltsville (CT)

3. Harriet Tubman (NY)

4. Manhattan Project (WA, TN, NM)

5. Valles Caldera (NM)

6. Tule Springs (NV)

7. World War I Memorial in Pershing Park (DC)

 

Park Expansions

1. Apostle Islands (WI)

2. First State (DE)

3. Gettysburg (PA)

4. Harriet Tubman (MD)

5. Hinchliffe Stadium in Paterson Great Falls (NJ)

6. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve (OR)

7. San Antonio Mission (TX )

8. Vicksburg (MS)

9. Lower East Side Tenement (NY)

 

Special Resource Studies

1. Lower Mississippi (LA)

2. Buffalo Soldiers

3. Rota, Commonwealth of Lower Mariana Islands

4. Prison Ship Martyrs (Brooklyn, NY)

5. Flushing Remonstrance (NY)

6. West Hunter Street Baptist Church (Atlanta, GA)

7. Mill Springs Battlefield (KY)

8. New Philadelphia (IL)

 

National Heritage Area Reauthorization

The authority to continue funding 15 National Heritage Areas that had a sunset will now be extended

through September 30, 2021.

1. Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor (PA)

2. National Coal Heritage Area (WV)

3. Rivers of Steel National Heritage Area (PA)

4. Essex National Heritage Area (MA)

5. Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area (IA)

6. Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area (OH)

7. Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area (NY)

8. Motor Cities National Heritage Area Partnership (MI)

9. Lackawanna Heritage Valley & State Heritage Area (PA)

10. Wheeling National Heritage Area (WV)

11. Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area (AZ)

12. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor (NY)

13. Schuykill River Valley National Heritage Area (PA)

14. Quinebaug & Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor (CT & MA)

15. John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor (MA & RI)

 

Mineral Withdrawal around national park

North Fork Watershed Protection Act (MT)

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Zoos, Aquariums Play Critical Role in Rescuing Species From the Brink of Extinction

Bali mynah at the Palm Beach Zoo
Bali mynah at the Palm Beach Zoo

The Palm Beach Zoo, West Palm Beach, Florida, is hailing a rare victory in the battle against global climate change: thanks to America’s accredited zoos and aquariums, more than 30 endangered species have been brought back from the brink of extinction. With climate change, population growth and deforestation, and poaching threatening species around the world, we are facing what scientists call the “Sixth Extinction.”

But the 229 accredited members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) have built a unique infrastructure to save endangered species – breeding programs that coordinate across many institutions to ensure genetic diversity, systems so that animals can be safely moved between institutions, and partnerships with local, national, and international conservation organizations working on re-introducing these animals to their native ranges.

Because of that infrastructure, there is good news in the face of the extinction crisis:  from the Florida manatee to the California condor, the Hawaiian crow to the Puerto Rican crested toad, the Chinese alligator to the American bison, zoos and aquariums have saved more than 30 species, and are working today on dozens more.

At the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, staff members are working on conservation programs for fifty endangered species, including for the Bali mynah bird as part of the of AZA’s Species Survival Plan(R) (SSP). Bali mynah are one of the rarest birds in the world, and two males, named R2 and D2, can be seen on exhibit in the Zoo’s Beuttenmuller Asian Aviary. As a part of the SSP, D2 will be moving to the Denver Zoo soon to form a new breeding pair. The Palm Beach Zoo has recently received another male from Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo to join R2 once the new bird completes his quarantine.

“Every zoo in the SSP serves a vital purpose in sustaining the population of this critically endangered Bali mynah,” said Jan Steele, general curator for the Zoo. “And for us at the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, it’s to provide a rocking bachelor pad for young males until they’re old enough to settle down and raise a family.”

Over the next several months, AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums will celebrate these successes, and invite the public to support efforts to save even more species. In November, in honor of Thanksgiving, AZA is spotlighting endangered birds, including:

Bali mynah have striking white plumage with black wing tips and bright blue coloration around the eyes. The species can approach 10 inches in height. Bali mynahs are nearly extinct in the wild because poachers collect them for the illegal pet trade, where they are valued for their striking plumage and beautiful songs. Because of this poaching, Bali mynahs are found almost exclusively in zoos.  But much has been done to help the Bali mynah’s wild population recover, including protection of their native breeding grounds. In 1987, 40 Bali mynahs from US zoos were sent to the Surbaja Zoo in Indonesia to form a breeding group, with resulting offspring released into the wild. In 2009, Bali mynahs raised in managed care were introduced to a neighboring island, Nusa Penida, and seem to be doing well so far.

The largest bird in North America, the California condor once dominated the western skies, able to soar to 15,000 feet and travel up to 150 miles a day in pursuit of food.  With its keen vision, the condor hunts for carcasses of dead animals, and then swoops in to feast, serving as nature’s clean-up crew.  But destruction of habitat and poaching decimated the species, and by 1982, only 22 birds remained in the wild.  The San Diego Zoo Global, the Los Angeles Zoo and 16 other AZA institutions took the lead at captive propagation, working with a network of government and non-profit partners.  Beginning in the early 1990s, zoo-bred condors began being reintroduced into the wild.  From a low of 22, there are now more than 435 condors in the world, with almost 250 free-flying in the West.

Prior to the 1960s, there were probably around 10,000 Guam rails living on Guam, a South Pacific island. Sometime between 1944 and 1952, brown tree snakes arrived on Guam, most likely on cargo ships. The snakes’ population rapidly increased, because there was plentiful prey (such as the Guam rails) and no natural predators. The tree snakes wiped out the native animal populations, and by the 1970s, 9 of the 11 native bird species, including the Guam rail, had disappeared.  Trying to save the species, the last few birds were removed from the island in the 1980s. In 1989, reintroduction of these birds began on the island of Rota, near Guam, as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan(R) (SSP) for the species.

The palila Hawaiian songbird is one of the endangered Hawaiian honeycreeper species and efforts to expand the palila population back to its historic range at Pu`u Mali have included experimental releases of captive-bred birds, as well as relocation of wild birds to protected areas. The palila was the first animal to have a federal circuit court case named after it, in a precedent setting case that increased protection for endangered species.  While several zoos are working to preserve the palila, they are not currently on exhibit to the public.

Known in Hawaii as Alala, the Hawaiian crow is the most endangered corvid in the world and is the only crow species found in Hawaii. The birds are extinct in the wild, and the remaining population is managed at zoos, where the chicks are fed and cared for by animal care staff they never see to ensure they do not imprint on humans.  The last `alal? were recorded in their natural habitat in 2002. Planning is underway to restore the `alal? to the Big Island of Hawaii beginning this year.

The Waldrapp ibis, also known as the hermit ibis or the northern bald ibis, may not be viewed by some as the most attractive bird, but their strong character and bizarre appearance give them unique appeal. They look almost comical with their bald heads, long red beaks and crazy crest feathers going every which way. Their black feathers take on brilliant sheens of purple, green and orange when viewed in bright sunlight. With only about 420 wild Waldrapp ibis remaining, this is one of the world’s most critically endangered avian species.  But thanks to a very successful breeding and release program, there are over 1,100 Waldrapp ibis in captivity, and offspring from zoos are being released back to the wild.

For a list of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums where you can see some of these incredible birds in person, visit the AZA website: http://www.aza.org/SpeciesBeingSaved.

About the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society: The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world. We advance our conservation mission through endangered species propagation, education and support of conservation initiatives in the field. Our commitment to sustainable business practices elevates our capacity to inspire others.

The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is located at 1301 Summit Boulevard in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Zoo is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit www.palmbeachzoo.org.

 

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With Stroke of Obama’s Pen, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument Becomes Largest Marine Reserve in World

Heteractis Magnifica Isla Maxima tidepools at Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Obama signed a proclamation expanding the protected area to six times its size, becoming the largest marine reserve in the world (photo from FWS).
Heteractis Magnifica Isla Maxima tidepools at Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Obama signed a proclamation expanding the protected area to six times its size, becoming the largest marine reserve in the world (photo from FWS).

With the stroke of a pen, President Obama expanded the existing Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, one of the most pristine tropical marine environments in the world, to six times its current size, resulting in 370,000 square nautical miles (490,000 square miles) of protected area around these tropical islands and atolls in the south-central Pacific Ocean, making it the largest marine reserve in the world that is completely off limits to commercial resource extraction including commercial fishing.

Expanding the Monument, which was first designated by George W. Bush on January 6, 2009, will more fully protect the deep coral reefs, seamounts, and marine ecosystems unique to this part of the world, which are also among the most vulnerable areas to the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.

Commercial fishing and other resource extraction activities, such as deep sea mining, are banned in the Monument.  But in recognition of the importance of encouraging and supporting access to federally managed areas, recreational and traditional fishing consistent with the conservation goals of the Monument will continue to be allowed in the expanded Monument.

“An ocean paradise teeming with rare marine life and birds surrounding atolls and reefs about 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii, the newly-expanded Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument further protects those ecosystems and their creatures—some of which are found nowhere else on earth,” the Wilderness Society wrote.

“Safeguarding these islands and their underwater ecosystems will help ensure the survival and recovery of several threatened and endangered species such as leatherback turtles, blue and humpback whales, whitetip sharks, and yellowfin tuna. The islands attract millions of migratory seabirds and the coral reefs in this area are full of colorful fish and anemones.

“The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument is like the Galapagos Islands in terms of the significance of this habitat for wildlife and its value for scientific research. The expansion of the monument garnered overwhelming support from scientists, businesses and conservation groups.”

The recently released National Climate Assessment confirms that climate change is causing sea levels and ocean temperatures to rise. Changing temperatures can harm coral reefs and force certain species to migrate. In addition, carbon pollution is being absorbed by the oceans, causing them to acidify, which can damage coastal shellfish beds and reefs, altering entire marine ecosystems. To date, the acidity of our ocean is changing 50 times faster than any known change in millions of years.

In response to this growing threat, the President announced in June his commitment to use his authority to protect some of our most precious marine landscape just like he has for our mountains, rivers, and forests. The Administration identified expanding the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument as an area of particular interest because science has shown that large marine protected areas can help rebuild biodiversity, support fish populations, and improve overall ecosystem resilience.

To meet the President’s commitment, the Administration examined how to expand protections near the Monument and considered the input of fishermen, scientists, conservation experts, elected officials, and other stakeholders, including through a town hall meeting and over 170,000 comments submitted electronically.

The expanded Monument will include over 130 newly protected sea mounts, which are hotspots of biodiversity that harbor uncounted numbers of new and unique marine species. The expansion will better protect the habitat of animals with large migration and foraging ranges that stretch throughout the area, including sea turtles, marine mammals, and manta rays.  The Monument is also home to millions of seabirds that forage over hundreds of miles and bring food back to their rookeries on the islands and atolls.  These birds serve as a conveyor belt of energy bringing nutrients caught at sea back into the near shore environment where they help sustain the ecosystems.

This proclamation builds on the Administration’s efforts to protect both our lands and our oceans.  Early in his first term, President Obama launched the National Ocean Policy to harmonize the implementation of more than 100 laws that govern our oceans and create a coordinated, science-based approach to managing the many resources and uses of our coasts and oceans.

In June, President Obama launched a series of executive actions to increase protections for the ocean, including combating black market fishing, establishing a pathway to new marine sanctuaries, and understanding the impacts of ocean acidification. The President has also designated 11 other national monuments across the United States to permanently protect sites that are significant to our nation’s rich history and natural heritage.

The expanded monument will continue to be managed by the Departments of the Interior and Commerce through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration respectively.  The Agencies will develop management plans pursuant to their respective authorities under the Antiquities Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Conservation Management Act, and other relevant authorities to ensure proper care and management of the Monument.

First exercised by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 to designate Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, the authority of the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 presidents since 1906 to protect unique natural and historic features in America, such as the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Colorado’s Canyons of the Ancients.

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Rhino Origami Selfie Campaign Underway to Save Rhinos in Botswana

Wildlife filmmakers, conservationists and National Geographic Explorers–in–Residence Dereck & Beverly Joubert, who are at the forefront of this project, are getting into the spirit of the selfie campaign to raise money to relocate rhinos even from the wilderness in Botswana.
Wildlife filmmakers, conservationists and National Geographic Explorers–in–Residence Dereck & Beverly Joubert, who are at the forefront of this project, are getting into the spirit of the selfie campaign to raise money to relocate rhinos even from the wilderness in Botswana.

Great Plains Conservation and &Beyond have joined forces to translocate up to 100 rhinos from high poaching zones to safe havens within Botswana.

“It is a costly and challenging endeavor but we believe it is an urgent and necessary strategy to sustain this threatened species,” say Wildlife filmmakers, conservationists, CEO of Great Plains Conervation and National Geographic Explorers–in–Residence, Dereck & Beverly Jouber,

In order to raise the funds for the first 10 rhinos that will be moved early in 2015, they have created a crowd–funding campaign (http://www.trevolta.com/rhinos). Each donation earns you a gift, from wildlife films to fine art prints. A $1 donation earns a donor a rhino shaped origami template to create your own origami rhino.

“We are on a mission to create a global rhino origami army to raise awareness of the issues surrounding rhino poaching and the campaign.

Already photos have been coming in from around the world.”

Join in and post your origami rhino selfies from around the world, from Table Mountain in Cape Town to Times Square in New York and add the hashtag #RhinosWithoutBorders or #RhinoMove.

“The challenge is on and we’ll be on the lookout for the most extreme rhino selfies!

“So far the campaign has raised $184,187 but together we can continue to Make A Difference Now.”

To read CNN article on Rhinos Without Borders click here

https://www.facebook.com/GreatPlainsConservation

https://twitter.com/dereckbeverly

 

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