Today at WILD9 / Hoy en WILD9

WILD9 is a success! Over the 8 days of WILD9, we gathered together to THINK, FEEL and ACT.

WILD9 was opened by President Felipe Calderon, and attended by 1800 delegates from 50 countries, with 10,000 on-line participants from 100 countries. WILD9 conveyed an extraordinary atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm, hosted a diverse range of working session and featured a plenary program with world leaders such as Dr. Jane Goodall; Dr. Sylvia Earle; Dr Pavan Sukhdev; Chief Tashka Yawanawa; Grand Chief Samuel Gargan; numerous Ministers; the heads of land management agencies from North America and other regions; Heinz Center Director Dr. Thomas Lovejoy; Nobel laureate Mario Molina; Dr. Amory Lovins; Dr Exequiel Ezcurra; and many others.

Download the summary of WILD9 Accomplishments >

View Video’s of WILD9 Presentations >

See Photos of WILD9 >

Visit www.wild.org for more information

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News! - Noticas! - Nouvelles!

Wild!

September 9, 2014

Photos and blog by Geoff Dalglish

Wild … it is arguably my favourite word and it is both a delicious state of being and an enticing place.

I love the way it rolls off the tongue, almost like a caress … or reverberates when I shout it, echoing off the walls of canyons or competing with the roar of the surf. It is a word and concept I thought about a lot as I walked thousands of kilometres with messages about treading more lightly and lovingly upon the Earth.

According to my dictionary, wild can mean uncultivated, uninhabited, inhospitable; primitive or not civilised; lacking discipline or restraint; or it can imply a state of excitement and enthusiasm. It draws me, like a moth to a flame, and friends joke that I’m in danger of going completely feral and heading into the wild, perhaps never to return to so-called civilisation. What a happy thought!

mabua lion © Geoff Dalglish

The word also increasingly finds itself in the titles of books, movies and organisations that inspire me. Into the Wild is a book and film that haunts me as it retraces the steps of Christopher McCandless, an idealistic young man who went in search of himself, braving the Alaskan wilderness on his own and eventually dying an excruciatingly painful death. But not before living his dream and being gifted with many valuable insights.

“If you want something in life, reach out and grab it,” he recommended. And he certainly did that, displaying a curiosity and fearlessness I admire.

Oscar Wilde famously declared: “Any map without Utopia on it isn’t worth looking at.” I guess Christopher McCandless had found his Utopia, although he might have figured a way out of his predicament and survived had he not thrown his maps away.

Two years ago I had a similarly strong urge to walk into my own wild, something that I did on California’s Lost Coast when I defied repeated warnings about the danger of bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes and even murderous cannabis farmers. Instead I enjoyed the loving embrace of wildness and wilderness, finding peace and solace away from humans. I celebrated aloneness without experiencing loneliness.

Lioness © Geoff Dalglish

Last year was another wild feast as I walked as an ambassador for WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress, my 124-day, 2,500km pilgrimage serving as both a marketing tool and a spiritual quest. Sometimes I felt that I was a wolf – hunted, persecuted, demonised and revered by some, as I attempted to follow in their tracks, marvelling at their resilience and resourcefulness. Against all odds, they’re staging a remarkable comeback in parts of Europe. As farmers and rural villagers migrate to the cities, wildlife is returning to make the world a wilder place again.

While I’ve sometimes struggled to find a balance between nature connection and connecting to the virtual world, in my wanderings I’ve come to appreciate that there is space enough for both. I need technology to spread messages about the magnificence of Pachamama, our Earth Mother and source of all sustenance. After walking for a year without books, because of their punishing weight, I invested in a Kindle and now carry a library of treasured electronic books, among them Shadow Mountain, a Memoir of Wolves, a Woman and the Wild, by Renee Askins. She famously helped reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone National Park.

“Something mysterious happens when we look into the eyes of an animal, whether it be a panther or a poodle,” she writes. “We see something familiar looking back. Ourselves? Yes, but we also see an ‘other.‘ We see something that is in us and yet without us, something we recognise and yet is unfamiliar, something we fear but for which we long. We see the wild.”

At a time when our relationship with nature is sadly diminished, we still turn to animals as a conduit to healing, she says. “And through our animals – those of our childhood, those in our homes, and those in the wild – we can begin to find our way back to being whole.”

Lion & Cub © Geoff Dalglish

This week I escaped into the pages of Wild, an autobiographical story of courage and redemption, as 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed walks the gruelling Pacific Crest Trail along the mountain spine of California and Oregon, ultimately meeting herself along the way. I identified with every painful step and recognised the kinship we develop with our backpack – even a punishingly overweight one nicknamed Monster.

Wild is due for release at the end of the year as a movie starring Reese Witherspoon (refreshingly sans makeup) and promises to be a hit if it is half as entertaining as the book.

After months of being based in one place, much of it parked in front of a computer screen, my longing for wildness is again stirring strongly, even though I begin every morning with a generous helping of nature on my solo sunrise walks through the nearby woods to the beach. My bare footprints are invariably the first in the freshly washed sand; my soul washed clean by the walk.

We all need wilderness and wildness in our lives, especially as so many of us are suffering what author Richard Louv has termed Nature Deficit Disorder. He wrote Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle, another favourite on my Kindle that has deepened my understanding of the healing powers of nature.

Soon I’ll again be in the wild, camping with close friends among the legendary black-maned lions of the Kalahari within the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park that straddles a remote corner of South Africa and Botswana.

Mabua clouds © Geoff Dalglish

It promises be a pilgrimage into the wilderness of my own soul and a place where I can again look deep into the eyes of one of Africa’s most feared and admired predators, perhaps waking with a hammering heart to a roar outside my tent.

And to make the wild feast complete, I plan to follow on with an 11-day Vision Quest that will include solo wild time without food or formal shelter, where I can reconfirm my vows to the Earth and all its beings.

From a very young age I believed it was my role to serve the natural world, although I no longer arrogantly believe that it is my duty to save it, sharing the inspiring sentiments of South African author, poet, psychiatrist and wilderness guide Ian McCallum, who I finally met last year during the World Wilderness Congress in Spain.

He insists: “We have to stop speaking about the Earth being in need of healing. The Earth does not need healing. We do. Our task is to rediscover ourselves in nature. It is an individual choice. And how or where do we begin? We begin exactly where we are right now, when we look at the world as a mirror, when we discover that our sense of freedom and authenticity is linked to the well-being and authenticity of others – and that includes the animals, the trees and the land.”

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Conservation Photography: The Big Picture

August 14, 2014

We can be nature’s eyes.

Conservation photography has been a long-time medium for furthering environmental issues and success stories. Beginning in the 1860′s with photographers like Ansel Adams & William Henry Jackson, these images have served as a powerful advocacy tool to protect the world’s wild areas & animals. Modern day conservation photography has been more formally introduced through groups like the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP). Founded by photographer & WILD Foundation board member Cristina Mittermeier in 2005 at the 8th World Wilderness Congress, the iLCP is dedicated to furthering environmental and cultural conservation through communication initiatives that create vital content and disseminate conservation messages to a wide variety of audiences. Check out Cristina’s article on Conservation Photography in the International Journal of Wilderness.

Turtle © Jason Houston

The WILD Foundation relies on these photographers to aid in spreading our mission of protecting & connecting wilderness, wildlife & people internationally. To communicate an environmental issue through one single image or group of images is no easy feat, but serves a grand purpose of engaging the viewer. Highly-acclaimed photographer Joel Sartore says that “the typical nature photograph shows a butterfly on a pretty flower. The conservation photograph shows the same thing, but with a bulldozer coming at it in the background. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for beautiful pictures, in fact we need beautiful images just as much as the issues. It does mean that the images exist for a reason; to save the Earth while we still can.” Who doesn’t love a beautiful nature photo? But when a capturing photo tells a story at the same time…that’s when the action begins.

Arches at Night  © Ian Shive

We at WILD are incredibly grateful for the likes of these conservation photographers who are working tirelessly to inform the public of the effects of climate change on the world’s vanishing glaciers, bringing awareness to marine conservation in the developing tropics, showing the threats of the Indigenous Kayapo tribe in the Brazilian Amazon or to the rare desert-dwelling elephants of Mali, and so much more. This fall, many of these highly-respected photographers will come together at the Telluride Photo Festival in Colorado to share their work and to help foster the next generation of photographers. In addition, WILD’s Communications Manager, Melanie Hill, and Multimedia Journalist/WILD Trustee, Morgan Heim, will be participating as portfolio reviewers. The reviewers will be people you will come in contact with if you are currently a professional photographer or seeking a career in photography- this also presents an excellent networking opportunity as well as feedback on your work!

Telluride, CO © Eric Moore

Telluride, Colorado is a charming Victorian mining town surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, nestled in the heart of the of the San Juan Mountains. Against this backdrop, the Telluride Photo Festival brings some of the world’s most renowned photographers for a week of sharing their knowledge and passion for the photographic arts. The main festival held over the weekend is composed of seminars, speakers in the evening, panel discussions, networking events and portfolio reviews. Never a dull moment!

The festival also features a diverse set of workshops with a little something for everyone. This autumn for the first time ever, the Sierra Club’s 2011 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography recipient, Ian Shive, and National Park Magazine Editor-in-Chief, Scott Kirkwood, join forces to take a select group of photographers into a National Park to go behind the lens to live the stories you see in print. Additionally, iLCP photographer Jason Houston is leading a conservation photography workshop with photo editor Melissa Ryan of The Nature Conservancy. Nationally recognized outdoor photographer, Mark Muench, puts on Composed By Light, a workshop for those interested in landscape photography with a focus on composition. Bill Ellzey is also leading Telluride’s Autumn Aspen Landscape workshop for those interested in fall foliage. Rounding things out, there will be a few other workshops which include wedding, location lighting, action sports and DSLR filmmaking. A unique aspect to the festival is that 3 workshops include photo editors from major magazines reviewing images taken during the workshop and their portfolios of the participants.

Wilderness Act Cover, Sierra

Guest Speakers include Pictures of the Year International, News Photographer of the Year 2014 as well as a 2011 Pulitzer Prize recipient, Barbara Davidson; National Geographic and Founding Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, Joel Sartore; and National Geographic as well as Staff Contributor for Harper’s Magazine, Aaron Huey. Acclaimed Fashion Photographer and Sigma Pro, Lindsay Adler; Tandem Stills + Motion founder and Sierra Club’s 2011 Ansel Adams Award for Conservation Photography, Ian Shive; as well as Canon Explorer of Light, Jennifer Wu.

Photographers, do not miss this event! The Telluride Photo Festival will take place September 29-October 5, 2014 and tickets are on sale now. Will we see you there?

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Our team in Mali announces recommendations for post-war reconciliation; helping re-establish healthy communities & secure desert elephants

July 11, 2014

Mali Elephants #1 010_web

Mali is no longer in the headlines but that does not mean that everything is back to normal! (1)

The Gourma region of central Mali –  home to the desert elephants and many small human communities – is contained on three sides by the great bend in the Niger river, and is starting the difficult task of rebuilding and reintegrating following the trauma of war.

These conditions prompted a national conference on reconciliation, facilitated by the Mali Elephant Project’s local team, the recommendations of which were announced by our team at a press conference in Mali during the week of 6 July.  One of the main preoccupations of the journalists at the press conference was whether the elephants were factors in community reconciliation, and what mechanisms there might be for involving communities in the process of reconciliation. Elephants and the local people both require a healthy, productive and diverse ecosystem.

Map of elephant range

One of the biggest impacts of the jihadist war and the earlier Tuareg rebellion has been the social wounds caused by different survival strategies adopted by specific individuals that  re-awoke and magnifed old social tensions – plus  created new ones. These different survival strategies adopted by locally influential people create negative conditions in their area and in how their communities and socio-ethnic groups are perceived by others.

This situation is exacerbated by the residual insecurity in the region, largely due to banditry perpetrated by those who joined the armed groups and who are reluctant to return to their communities for fear of retribution. As a result, displaced people are reluctant to return to their original communities.

Firebreak team

Our work with the communities demonstrated clearly that the weakening of social bonds poses a threat to the environment, because the sustainable management of natural resources requires communities to work together peaceably for their common interest of preventing resource degradation and destruction. Further, our work conclusively showed that natural resource management is an excellent way to bring communities together to help heal these wounds.

For example, the project strategies confirmed  that the teamwork required to build fire-breaks around the pasture reserves – the existence of which are a key factor in meeting the needs of the communities so they can stay out of the elephant migration route — has  re-established and strengthened social relations. Days spent working together, sharing meals, and evenings around a fire, promote the sharing of experience and mutual understanding, and the realisation that the actions of a few do not mean that the whole community or clan need be tarred with the same brush.

Mali Elephants #1 103_web

Other questions at the press conference centred around how we arrived at the conclusions. A survey of the population had helped us identify 8 categories of people according to their survival strategy. Each of these require different approaches for their reintegration, and this formed the basis of a national workshop bringing high-level government in dialogue with community representatives to chart the way forward.

We are now pleased to launch the final paper. To assure success in the critically important post-conflict reconciliation, the first two main conclusions are:

  • Post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction must involve local communities from the start
  • Repairing the social fabric is a prerequisite for ensuring the social, economic and environmental sustainability of reconstruction initiatives in the Gourma region of Mali

Background: Local people are familiar with the pre-conflict situation and can help to ensure that compensation is fair; minimise the risk of aid exacerbating social divisions; and minimise the risk of aid falling into the wrong hands.

They can help determine the needs for reintegrating displaced people, particularly important as young men who are unable to return to their communities risk radicalisation and/or engaging in criminal activity.

They know who has committed what crimes and can help the process of justice. They also know who has arms and can help recover them.

Mali Elephants #1 088_web

The third conclusion, as suggested earlier, is that:

  • Social resilience and environmental resilience are tightly linked, and resilience is key to surviving change and disturbance.

Background:  Local livelihoods demand healthy ecosystems, and the availability of natural resources; while community cohesion is necessary to avoid overexploitation. Development which places an added burden on the environment (such as new settlements) or on social relations (such as new water-points) must be avoided.

Otherwise, the management of reconstruction, the return of refugees, and development, risks reigniting tensions and sowing the seeds of future social and environmental problems which would be difficult to control.

These conclusions provided the basis for a phased action plan of concrete activities. We’ll report further on their application in the coming months.

The WILD Foundation and the International Conservation Fund of Canada wish to thank the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative for its support of this initiative.

(1) A good summary of the current situation can be found in a recent piece by Simon Allison

> Learn more about the Mali Elephant Project

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Partnership extended between Rewilding Europe and WILD

June 26, 2014

The WILD Foundation and Rewilding Europe have extended their partnership by signing a ‘Collaborative Conservation Agreement’ for 2014-2015. The partnership will build on the successful cooperation thus far and will focus on building further upon the results of WILD10 (the 10th World Wilderness Congress—WWC), planning of the next WWC (WILD11), sharing of networks and best practice models (in particular between North America, Africa and Europe), fostering intergenerational work in Europe such as CoalitionWILD (‘Rising Leaders for a Wider World’),  and further promotion of the ‘Vision for a Wilder Europe’ (launched at WILD10 in October 2013, and currently being updated for publishing and distribution in July).

Frans Schepers RWE

Frans Schepers, Rewilding Europe

“WILD10 has provided Europe with a great platform to increase the interest in rewilding, wilderness protection and wildlife comeback,” says Frans Schepers, Managing Director of Rewilding Europe. “Also the role of The WILD Foundation in facilitating and supporting the ‘Vision for a Wilder Europe’ has been instrumental. In our renewed partnership agreement with The WILD Foundation, we will continue to build on these successes, putting our work in Europe in a global perspective, sharing and learning from other examples in the world.”

Vision for Wilder EuropeVance G. Martin, President of WILD and the WWC, is equally enthusiastic about the continuing collaboration.  “Rewilding Europe is doing important work- demonstrating that wild nature and humankind can live together, in a new manner, on the world’s most densely populated continent. What they are learning and accomplishing will provide important guidelines for work in many other regions of the world.  It will certainly complement, inform, and strengthen the global work that WILD and the Wilderness Foundation do through our projects, our network, and the World Wilderness Congress.”

Rewilding Europe was established in 2011 to enhance and expand the return of wilderness and wildlife to Europe, and has developed a progressive and ambitious program called the “The Rewilding 10” — restoring wild nature, connecting human livelihoods to wild nature  in 1o large areas throughout Europe. Download their 2013 Annual Review.

The WILD Foundation began in Africa and then established in the USA in 1974. The Foundation is based in Colorado and works for wilderness, wildlife and people in the US and throughout the world, with its working partner The Wilderness Foundation and scores of close collaborators and associates. WILD is founder/steward of the World Wilderness Congress.  Download our Annual Report 2013 >

 > Download the press release

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Mali poachers caught!… A superb response to a tragedy

June 24, 2014

We have good news! After the tragic poaching incident of 13-14 May, we received a superb response from many of our supporters and the Malian government. Thank you to everyone who helped out!  The incident was a tragedy, but the response within Mali was extraordinary, and never seen before.  It is clear evidence that our work with the communities and elephants has convinced people at all levels that a healthy and safe herd of elephants is directly linked to the health and well-being of human communities.  Here’s what occurred, and what many of you helped make possible:

Mali elephant huddle

In Mali, the Chief of Defense told us “I am committed to the elephants” and immediately responded by mounting a military air and ground mission. Working in conjunction with our community brigades, they apprehended and jailed the actual poachers, and also arrested the main ring leader (who motivated and paid the poachers).  We also learned that this ring-leader had been the instigator of a few of the other isolated poaching incidents in Central Mali.

Lake Banzena

Lake Banzena

The Environment Minister – our colleague and a supporter of the Mali Elephant Project – immediately brought the incident to the attention of the Cabinet of Ministers and took the opportunity to explain the importance of the unique and vulnerable desert elephants to local communities and to the nation as a whole. The government responded with a commitment of money to create additional forester posts throughout the elephant range (in partnership with Gabon’s Agency for National Parks, ANPN), and to repair the water supply (boreholes) that had been sabotaged by fleeing jihadis. These boreholes had been a key part of the plan devised in conjunction with the local population, whereby they would  leave  Lake Banzena for elephant use only, if we could help them  relocate to an area of good pasture outside the elephant range, by providing water for them. Lake Banzena is the only water available for elephants at the end of the dry season and therefore the lynch-pin of their migration. This is explained in more detail and illustrated here.

Drilling the boreholes

Drilling the boreholes

The US Embassy in Mali has also been extremely supportive. We met personally with Ambassador Leonard and her senior staff, and she cleared the way for US resources to be used to assess the damage to, and repair, critical local ecological infrastructure destroyed during the war.  We’ll report on that soon!

 

 

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