As a certified California naturalist, conservation is something I care about deeply and I am actively involved in a variety of ways.
I am proud to be a long term volunteer with the Wildlife Conservation Network where I was introduced to the people and projects they manage around the globe.
One of these is Cheetah Conservation Botswana where in 2011 I spent a month at their field operations in the Kalahari. I continue my support by producing their bi-monthly newsletter.
In 2016 I visited Projecto Titi in Colombia where I had the rare opportunity to see and photograph the critically endangered Cotton-top Tamarin in its remaining habitat. Seeing first hand the incredible work and the challenges these organizations face is a privilege indeed and I hope to visit more in the future.
Although it is amazing to visit and see wildlife in exotic locations, it is also important to understand that conservation is just as important in our own back yards. Over the past couple of years or so, I have become involved with Point Blue Conservation Science and their efforts to save the threatened Western Snowy Plover. I am a long term supporter of the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO), where I both volunteer and donate pieces of my work for auction and fundraising purposes.
In recent years I have been visiting the polar regions on a regular basis and this is now becoming a new area of interest, particularly in relation to global warming and the exploitation of natural resources. The impact is very apparent, not only in the changing landscape, but in the wildlife both on land and at sea that is having to somehow adapt and not necessarily in a positive way.
I hope by sharing my work, stories and love of the natural world, others will be inspired to also get involved.
Other organizations I support include: Audubon California, Birdlife International, California State Parks, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, Friends of the Sea Otter, KIVA, Land Trust of Santa Cruz, Native Animal Rescue of Santa Cruz County, Return To Freedom Wild Horse Sanctuary, Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network, Sierra Club, WildCare.
For the past several years or so, I have been a volunteer with the Wildlife Conservation Network and each year attend their annual expo in San Francisco. It is a wonderful and rewarding way to not only contribute in some way to conservation, but to also meet with some of the amazing people who have dedicated their lives to to saving wildlife around the globe.
Since I will be heading to Costa Rica in mid-November with UnCruise on their Unveiled Wonders tour, I felt it only appropriate to visit and chat with Germán Sibaja, the founder of the MESO American Rescue Center which is located in Chilamate, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica accounts for only 0.03 percent of the earth's surface, yet it contains nearly 6 percent of the world's biodiversity. Sadly, it has over 100 species on the endangered species list, many of which are listed as critically endangered due to deforestation, human development, unsustainable fishing and hunting practices, poaching, and the illegal pet trade. While amazing efforts are being made to protect the native wildlife and diverse ecosystems, the future of many species is uncertain.
Although the center is relatively new at less than three years in operation, I learned from Germán about the amazing work and commitment the center has to rescuing and rehabilitating the native birds and wildlife in Costa Rica. These are some of the amazing creatures I hope to both see and photograph and as a visitor, knowing that they are faced with many challenges to their survival, makes me want to share not only their beauty, but their plight, as is the case with so many wild species around the globe.
The center also promotes animal welfare including a spay/neuter program in the communities that surround Costa Rica's nature reserves. Feral dogs and cats are an issue as they both injure and kill the native wildlife. Other programs include animal crossings signs, reforestation by planting trees, school education programs and some wonderful volunteer opportunities.
I really enjoyed meeting Germán and learning about the commitment to his beautiful home and its non-human inhabitants. I have no doubt of his success and I truly wish him all the best!