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.

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See Photos of WILD9 >

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News! - Noticas! - Nouvelles!

Vietnamese pop duo to help stop horror of rhino poaching

April 18, 2014

Rhino and calf

WILD works to protect wildlife, especially in Africa and with iconic species, in numerous ways, from direct anti-poaching to community-based management and empowerment. We have been doing this a long time, beginning  in the early 1960’s in South Africa with our founder, Dr. Ian Player, one of the world’s legendary conservationists and environmental statesmen. Born in South Africa in 1927, he “earned his stripes” in the rough and tumble era during which Africa’s protected areas were being created and tested. With his team, he also pioneered the saving of endangered large mammals  when they saved the white rhino from extinction (Operation Rhino).

Continuing the protection of the rhino, the members of the Wilderness Network, which includes the Wilderness Foundation (Africa)Wilderness Foundation (UK) and WILD are taking urgent action to address steadily increasing levels of rhino poaching in South Africa. In May 2011, the Wilderness Foundation set up a petition to voice the public’s outcry over the cruelty of rhino poaching. The petition, which was taken to the highest governmental powers in March 2012, is a vital part of the Wilderness Foundation’s lobbying campaign. It received over 18,000 signatures from around the world, and together with an integrated YouTube and social media campaign, generated worldwide awareness of the rhino poaching crisis. Through a partnership with Safari Club International and the Magqubu Ntomebla Foundation, we established an expert team of informants with experience in intelligence gathering and legal & forensic expertise. The goal of the informants, a specialized project which was initiated at the end of 2010 for a specific period of time, was  to identify and collect information on poachers that lead in some cases to arrest or exposure.  Learn more about our work with the Forever Wild Rhino Protection Initiative > 

More recently, a Vietnamese pop duo traveled to the Shamwari Game Reserve to raise awareness about the horrendous rhino poaching crisis. Andrew Muir, CEO of the Wilderness Foundation (Africa), helped sponsor this visit. Read this article just published in The Mercury newspaper to see how this talented duo intends to help save this iconic species.

Vietnamese pop duo to help stop horror of rhino poaching

April 15, 2014 by Tony Carnie

With more than 3 million Facebook friends between them, Vietnamese pop stars Thu Minh and Thanh Bui are hoping they can help turn the tide against rhino poaching before these creatures become extinct. The two singers, who have spent the past week at the Shamwari Game Reserve outside Port Elizabeth, are already working on a song to subtly raise awareness about the South African rhino poaching crisis in their home country of 90 million people, most of whom are under 30.

Thu Minh & Thanh Bui

Thu Minh & Thanh Bui © Wilderness Foundation

“We will have to be incredibly sensitive about how we go about this. We can’t just go and sing something like ‘Save the Rhino!’ or ‘Stop using rhino horn powder’. If it is too blunt or too cheesy, it could backfire,” said Australian-born Bui, whose parents fled Vietnam in 1982. Two years ago, Bui moved permanently to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) after his music career took off and he gained a major following in his parents’ home country.

Minh, also from Ho Chi Minh City, said the experience of seeing and touching a rhino in the wild lands of Africa had made a deep impression on her. “I felt its heartbeat and the warmth of its body when one of the rhinos was immobilised at Shamwari for a DNA test. When I came to South Africa this week, I really was not sure that I would be able to deal with this issue when I got back in Vietnam. But now I am a lot more confident about telling the real story about rhinos in my shows and talk shows.” Bui and Minh can attract up to 90 000 likes on a single posting on the social media page.

Thu Minh

Vietnamese pop singer Thu Minh, who lives in Ho Chi Minh City, gets up close to two white rhinos in the 21 000ha Shamwari Game Reserve near Port Elizabeth. © Wilderness Foundation

Andrew Muir, the chief executive of the Wilderness Foundation which helped sponsor the visit, said various strategies had been used to stem the tide of rhino poaching during the past six years. Some of the experiments had included de-horning animals or deliberately tainting horns with poison and indelible dye. “But we also have to look at new strategies to try to reduce the demand in Vietnam and China through education campaigns and by communicating with people in the countries where most of the horns go to.

“We are the global custodians of more than 80 percent of the remaining rhinos in the world – but we cannot solve this problem on our own in South Africa,” he said. “We also realise that trying to reduce demand for rhino horn will not bring overnight solutions. It is going to take a long time and a lot of work to try to turn the wheel around.”

Speaking at a media briefing in Port Elizabeth yesterday, Bui and Minh said neither of them had ever consumed or even seen rhino horn in Vietnam. “But we have heard many stories from our friends about how rhino horn is becoming a symbol of wealth and power, or myths on  how it can be used to cure impotence or cancer,” said Bui. “We will have to think carefully about how to massage our message and how to reach the elite sections of the population that use rhino horn. But I think we have to stress that we are part of the international community and that Vietnam can lead the way in stopping this problem.” Minh said: “The whole world is looking in horror at what we are doing to rhinos. It has to stop for the sake of the rhinos and for the honour of Vietnam.”

> View the full article here

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Chicago WILD Cities Workshop

April 17, 2014

The WILD Cities Project is striving to create a new concept of urbanism where nature is a valued aspect of our world’s cities. To accomplish this mission, The WILD Foundation is facilitating the establishment of a global network of urban areas that are committed to advancing polices and urban planning strategies for preserving wild nature in cities. Through its ongoing commitment and visionary approaches to protecting nature in the city and engaging its citizens with unique opportunities to experience these natural areas, Chicago, Illinois has established itself as one of the greatest examples of a WILD City.

Chicago forest

Chicago’s commitment to the WILD Cities mission is epitomized by its remarkable Forest Preserve system. The Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois manages more than 68,000 acres of public land, which is about 11% of the total area of Cook County. These lands surrounding the Chicago metropolitan area are a mosaic of nature preserves, oak woodlands & savannas, native wetlands, managed lakes & ponds, and over 300 miles of trails for citizen recreation. This devotion to promoting the existence of wild nature as an integral part of the city environment has made Chicago a model representative for effective urban conservation policy.

Since the launch of WILD Cities at the 10th World Wilderness Congress (WILD10), Chicago has been a valued leader and WILD City Champion, helping to advocate and advance the WILD Cities mission. And to continue to build upon the WILD Cities momentum coming out of WILD10, The WILD Foundation recently partnered with some of the leading urban conservation organizations in Chicago to convene a diverse network of professionals to explore ideas and strategies for further developing and advancing the WILD Cities vision.

On April 4, 2014 The WILD Foundation hosted a WILD Cities Workshop in collaboration with Chicago Wilderness and The Forest Preserve District of Cook County at Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. This Workshop convened a diverse group of urban conservation and citizen engagement leaders from organizations in Chicago and the surrounding metropolitan area, and also included participants from New York City, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Berlin, Germany. The Workshop participants engaged in a spirited discussion about various strategies and policy mechanisms for effective urban conservation and defining the criteria for what constitutes a WILD City by exploring topics such as: urban green infrastructure & climate change resilience, wildlife & habitats within cities, urban planning initiatives for biodiversity, and connecting urban citizens with nature and wilderness.

Arnold Randall, General Superintendent for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County

Arnold Randall, General Superintendent for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County

The Chicago WILD Cities Workshop also included an opportunity to experience some of Chicago’s wild nature with a guided field trip to one of its Forest Preserve areas. On Saturday April 5th, a group of Workshop participants was led on an excursion to the Sagawau Environmental Learning Center in Lemont, Illinois. Just 40 minutes outside of downtown Chicago, Sagawau is an oasis of nature and wildlife. Our walk through the Sagawau Canyon Nature Preserve featured beautiful forested areas, unique rock formations, and a variety of wildlife species including great blue herons, sandhill cranes, and turkey vultures. It was truly remarkable to experience this wild nature in such close proximity to one of America’s largest metropolises.

Sagawau Canyon Nature Preserve

Sagawau Canyon Nature Preserve 

The Chicago WILD Cities Workshop generated excellent feedback and innovative new strategies for further enhancing the WILD Cities vision, and also allowed for WILD to engage with an extraordinary new group of professionals dedicated to promoting the conservation of wild nature in urban areas.  WILD is very enthusiastic about its ongoing relationship with Chicago as a WILD City Champion and key WILD Cities partner, and we look forward to continuing to share Chicago’s outstanding urban conservation model with the international conservation community.

> Learn more about the WILD Cities Project

> Read More

Keeping up with the ever-changing world of social media

March 28, 2014

If you are an avid follower of WILD’s communications, then you’re familiar with the ways that we share our updates. We post directly to our Talking WILD Blog, eLeaf newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube…and who knows what else is in our future! The world of social media and digital communications is always evolving. We have some exciting work going on and we don’t want you to miss out on anything.

Here’s some unfortunate news. We at WILD have been concerned about our Facebook fan reach and activity levels dropping. Were we not posting engaging content? Were there some new changes in Facebook’s algorithm happening that we didn’t know about? Were we doing something wrong? Now we have an answer: Facebook has begun to slowly decline the overall organic reach of their brand pages. You can read about it here.

What this means: unless we pay to promote each of our posts, only a fraction of our fans will see what we share. “We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it,” says a Facebook spokesperson. Makes sense, right? But when you are a nonprofit organization, this is no easy feat. And what about those of you who chose to like our page so they could get updates about our conservation work?

As you may know, WILD is a very lean 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 95% of our funds go directly to our programs, and the remaining 5% goes to administrative & fundraising costs. We, regrettably, do not have the extra money in our budget to spend on constantly promoting our daily posts on Facebook. We hope that the folks behind Facebook will understand this and somehow find some ways to support the active nonprofits on this platform.

But for now, here’s what you can do to continue seeing our updates on Facebook:

On The WILD Foundation page, hover over where it says “Liked” (or “Like” if you haven’t yet!), and check these options:

  1. “Get Notifications” to get a notification when we share a post (we keep these minimal!)
  2. “Add to Interest Lists” so you can see more of our posts separate from your main Newsfeed. You may need to create one first:

There’s many ways to stay involved with WILD, and we need your help making sure we can get our messaging out there. We urge you to not only follow us on the listed sites, but be active! Comment, like, share, retweet, favorite, forward and talk about our conservation work. The more activity, the more our updates will be seen. And talk to us- we love feedback! We want to make sure we’re doing the best we can to communicate our programs and important updates. For any comments or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me:

Follow The WILD Foundation: Talking WILD BlogeLeaf newsletter


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Why do the local people protect the elephants?

February 13, 2014

Mali Elephant Project update

Sometimes in conservation we have been reticent to ask local people what they think and feel about wildlife in case they are less than enthusiastic! In reality what they usually don’t want is to have their livelihoods diminished and their options reduced, particularly when the wildlife is perceived to benefit the affluent.

Why do the local people protect the elephants? This was the first question registered after my recent TEDx talk telling the story of how a few people can make a big difference, and it is a vital question. Nature and wildlife have multiple values, some of which can have a monetary figure attached to them (if they are readily marketable goods such as food and construction materials), and some of which can’t. In trying to determine the value of nature we often concentrate on just one or a few of these, and in the process miss the combined value. Although I am used to describing why the people conserve the elephants in particular contexts, I had never before drawn all the reasons together in one place.

In return for protecting the elephant migration route and its habitats, the project helps the community to overcome their problems and challenges. These might vary in detail from place to place according to local circumstances and have included access to clean water, procuring grain, youth employment, and conflict management; but all involve preventing and reversing ecosystem degradation. Bringing diverse clans and ethnicities together to protect water, pasture, forests, wildlife and wild foods and using these resources sustainably means that more are available over a greater area, as for example in protecting pasture against fire. Most importantly, it also gives them control over the land and its resources, empowering them to prevent others (particularly commercial interests from towns hundreds of kilometres away) from over-exploitation and causing environmental degradation. They can also prevent incomers from clearing forest for cultivation, and thereby protect a source of wild foods, fuel, game, and services such as water retention and soil stabilisation as well as key elephant habitat. They can receive revenue from charging by the head for livestock belonging to the large ‘prestige’ herds coming from distant towns to access water. These belong to wealthy urban dwellers who send them into remoter areas to find pasture as none remains close to densely populated centres. We discovered that over 96% of the cattle using Lake Banzena in 2009 belonged to such herds.

These activities provide an occupation for the young men that has status within the community, an idea that might be replicated wherever there is environmental degradation.

Do they need elephants to do this? Maybe not, but the local people know that elephants attract the attention of the wider community – national and international – and are proud of that. As they say, “if the elephants disappear, our area will no longer be special”. They view elephants as an indicator of a healthy ecosystem and they know that their livelihoods depend on a healthy ecosystem. They also know from direct experience that elephants are important as seed dispersers and in forest regeneration. Elephants knock down otherwise inaccessible fruits and seeds from high branches that are gathered by the women for food and sometimes sale. Fruits and leaves are also eaten by livestock. Dung is valued to help conjunctivitis, a widespread problem in these environments.

They are in awe of witnessing elephants’ social interactions and expression of a range of emotions, their joy when groups reunite, their apparent care for each other and particularly for their young. They have reported seeing elephants covering their dead with soil and branches and standing vigil for several days. They tell of elephants constructing a causeway of wood and branches to help rescue another elephant stuck in mud.

They also feel that every species has a right to exist and that it contributes something to the ecosystem that is unique to it, a notion that was described to me as being encapsulated in the word baraka or blessing. Each species has its own baraka, and if a species is lost, the ecosystem is irretrievably diminished, and poorer in its ability to sustain life.

Once peace is restored there is the additional possibility of revenue from tourism, as pre-conflict they have witnessed tourists paying to be guided to see the elephants.

Some of these reasons may seem fragile when considered on their own, but together these ‘elephant plus points’ combine to produce an overall benefit that is greater than the sum of the parts. While we can attempt to place a monetary value on some aspects of this benefit, it is impossible to do so with all aspects and particularly with the “emergent “ value, something that needs to be acknowledged in attempts to analyse the economics of the ivory trade as well as conservation and development interventions in elephant areas.

> Learn more about the Mali Elephant Project

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WILD Women at TEDx

January 21, 2014

WILD’s family is full of wonderful and talented people, including many fun, fabulous and highly-skilled women.  Just a  few of our “WILD Women” were invited to speak at TEDxVailWomen on the theme “Invented Here.” Not just technology inventions, but also new solutions to poverty; new approaches to leadership; new expressions of art and music; and, at times, the invention of our own lives. This inspirational day-long event was hosted by WILD Foundation board member, Kat Haber, and included Dr. Susan Canney, Morgan Heim, Asher Jay and Cristina Mittermeier. Take some time to watch each of their talks – whether it be working with a local community to save a unique herd of elephants, going on a foolish adventure to research the elusive fishing cat, using art to bring awareness to conservation issues, or shining a light on indigenous people & conservation with photography- each of these women are creatively working to make a difference in the conservation field.

Dr. Susan Canney

Project Leader of the Mali Elephant Project

The elephants in Mali are unique. They live in one of the harshest environments in the world, the arid Sahel and have one of the longest migrations routes of any elephants. They are the most northerly elephant herd in Africa – the last comparable herd went extinct in the 1980s. WILD has embarked on a large-scale action and outreach program to work with local communities, government officials, tourism companies and others to help the Mali elephants, and in turn, help the people of Mali.

Susan Canney tells the story of the Mali Elephant Project to demonstrate how shifting your perspective opens up new possibilities for transforming an impossible situation. By being willing to Not Know and let go of assumptions, at the same time as doing everything to understand and respect all aspects of the situation, a better way opens up.

Morgan Heim

Multimedia Journalist & WILD Foundation Trustee

Conservation photographer Morgan Heim is on a mission to connect our lives with the stories of the natural world. We save the things we care about. But how do you connect with an endangered animal that lives half a world away? In an adventure to find the elusive fishing cat, two American girls undergo a transformation that can change how we connect with the causes around us.

“Being foolish gave us the courage to keep going, even when all the logic dictated that we should stop…The foolish choice might just be the best choice you can make.”

Asher Jay

Conservation Artist & Activist, WILD Foundation Associate

By Design, Asher is a creative conservationist. She believes that our inability to perceive what has been lost to us prevents us from valuing and conserving what remains. Through both visuals and a personal narrative Asher casts a light on what she’s learned from love and loss.

A staunch supporter of animal rights, wildlife conservation and sustainable development, Asher found herself using her fashion, art and writing to raise awareness. Over the years she has produced several graphic campaigns, written many narratives, and pieced together numerous collections and canvases to eloquently elucidate the serious issues currently assailing our fragile planet.

Cristina Mittermeier

Conservation Photographer, Founder of the iLCP & WILD Foundation Board Member

A conservationist with a camera and a passionate opinion, Cristina Mittermeier has dedicated her career to convince others of the imperative to protect our planet. In 2008, she founded the International League of Conservation Photographers at the 8th World Wilderness Congress in Anchorage, Alaska.

Enoughness, how much is enough? Cristina Mittermeier shows her stunning images of indigenous peoples to shine lights on conservation issues and places where healthy ecosystems remain. In her talk, Cristina tells us that contentment is long lasting and comes from inside- she defines it as an internal yard stick. Humor is a great way of building enoughness. Her images remind us “that when all the rivers have been dammed, and all the forests have been turned into chopsticks, and when the last wild creature has been hunted for their trophy, we will all be a lot poorer.”

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