Conservation Through Travel
Last month my trilogy completed with the mission to explain to those in other lands how important their backyards were to us – the global ‘us’. Most of this world struggles with daily existence and trying to tell them to protect the animals and plants around them becomes an abstract, and potentially insulting, proposition. Survival is their primary concern and without luxury everything else in life is moot. But if the charges, the residents, of these lands can recognize the importance in protecting these lands and animals, and can recognize some tangible benefit then there may be hope. Imagine what it must be like to have someone travel half way around the world to come take a look at the creatures in your backyard. The very same animals and plants you may take for granted. There must also be a sense of pride to realize someone is spending a sizeable chunk of money and time to undertake this folly. I like to think that when I travel I am impressing the importance of these environments to my hosts. I do my best to learn from them and, where I can, I try to teach. I have found that ignorance about reptiles and amphibians is common globally, so when the opportunity presents I pass along experiences, facts, and biology about little known creatures. In exchange I am taught about cultures, plants, or endless other topics my hosts can present to me. I have developed a mutual respect and more importantly a relationship between me and my community to another that may be thousands of miles away. If I can take my relative wealth and translate that into awareness and education then I believe I may have a more effective means of conservation. All of the parties have a greater understanding or what it is we all want to save but also recognize the situations are rarely simple or absolute.
This to me sounds simple but I know it is not so easy to just jet off to some exotic location and spend time wandering a strange land exploring stranger plants and animals. Push back usually comes in the form of time and expense that is required of people. I know that there may be a great deal of effort in pulling trips like this off. However, most of my audience consists of people who are traveling to a frog show. They are devoting time and expense to travel to and stay at these multi day events and spend sizeable sums on new animal purchases. I have often challenged people to use their time and expense to buy new animals in an ever growing collection to instead get out into the native environments of these animals and see them as they are meant to be seen. This challenge is not just to do some conservation good. The reward is priceless. The tales of adventure that come on trips like this shouldn’t just be read about. The education and the experience will have far reaching consequences and in my opinion certainly justify the delay of acquiring new animals for a spell. In other words, I find most of the people in the amphibian hobby claim some degree of conservation-mindedness. My challenge is to put your money where your mouth (or heart) is. I guarantee you will get your investment back. Of course my sales pitch consists of lots of photos of exotic animals and locales and maybe a few stories to help convince people what will be in store for them. If you have been reading my blog entries then this will all be clear to you.
If you are willing to take this travel plunge but don’t know where or how to start, contact me and I’ll help with some suggestions. And for you in the amphibian husbandry hobby you should really consider attending the Sustainable Amphibian Conservation of the Americas Symposium (SACAS). This event will consist of 5 days of lectures, presentations, and a roundtable discussion featuring 16 researchers, biologists and other professionals associated in the field of amphibian study and conservation. Additionally, there will be exciting and interesting field trips and tours which will leave you with a comprehensive understanding of why sustainable amphibian conservation is so important.
Conservation organizations in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica are represented, as well as an invited guest whose conservation efforts are currently focused on the amphibians of Madagascar.
The location in Siquirres, Costa Rica has been chosen in part due to its close proximity to the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center (CRARC) and also because its rain forests offer access to some of the most diverse biotypes and amphibian densities in the world.
The main force behind this Symposium is to act as an exciting and educational fundraising event for conservation organizations like the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center, WIKIRI of Ecuador, MITSINJO of Madagascar, and Tesoros of Colombia. Your participation by attending this Symposium will positively influence these conservation efforts as a result of your contribution. What this means is that you don’t have to put in any work to make a trip to the tropics and begin your adventures. You owe it to conservation and you owe to yourselves to get out there and see what you want to save. You owe it to these people trying to develop sustainable use and production of amphibian populations that hobbyists crave. And you owe it to your friends and family to supply them with tales of exotic lands worth saving.
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