Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Canadian Tourism vs Water Quality & Biodiversity in Upper Columbia River Basin

November 3, 2015

NWNL applauds Patagonia for publicizing the East Kootenay threat of a proposed major ski resort that has concerned folks world-wide for decades. This film is a visually enthralling treat that portrays the beauty of the Upper Columbia River Basin mountain ranges and the reasons to KEEP JUMBO VALLEY WILD.


To supplement the story told by Patagonia, here are excerpts from our 2007 NWNL Columbia River Basin Expedition interview in Invermere BC with John Bergenske of Wildsight:

The transboundary Columbia River Basin is a continentally-significant ecosystem that also has the densest population of inland grizzly bears we know of.  Wildlife in the Purcells Range of the Columbia River Basin in the East Kootenays is a big, big issue because we are at a north-south crossroads in terms of our species diversity here.  We share the southern extent of some of the more northern species, and the northern extent of the more southern species.

Canada: Alberta, cars pulled over from highway watching black bear

Canada: Alberta, human development encroaches on bear habitat

The biologists are saying that’s going to be a major disaster if Jumbo Glacier Resort goes forward because of its potential movement of bear populations and the breakup of genetic connectivity that would occur over the long term, not just in the short term.  We have very strong public opinion against development of the resort here in the [Columbia Valley Kootenay] region, but the decisions are made in Victoria where the developers have very, very good connections.

A lot of our work [to stop Jumbo Glacier Resort] is around providing information.  We did about five years of field research on mountain caribou; and we’ve just been involved in several years of research on grizzly bear populations and density.  We’re keeping the public informed and  involved in this work.  We’re supporting the work of the land trusts to try to negotiate some trades.  The K’tunaxa First Nation is absolutely key to what’s happening here because this is the most sacred place in their territory.  This is the place of their creation myth, and so as a result they are very, very concerned about how this particular area is managed.  They are very in line with it being managed for the natural values and the wildlife values.

Canada:  British Columbia, Columbia River Basin, Kootenay Rockies, Cranbroook, Elizabeth Lake Wildlilfe Center)

Canada: British Columbia, Columbia River Basin, Kootenay Rockies, Cranbroook, Elizabeth Lake Wildlilfe Center

People don’t recognize that if you inundate the land with inappropriate tourism use – even if it is with nice little country homes – we basically lose key pieces of the landscape that are really important to make the whole system work [and to protect] all of its values, obviously including the water values [affected by increased water use, heavier septic loads and floods].  We have a 180 km. wetland system that is unique because of its importance on the flyway and the fact that it is the headwaters of this Columbia River Basin system.  Being such an adaptable animal, we as people don’t always recognize what we are losing until all of a sudden:  ‘Oh, what happened?’  In some ways, we adapt almost too fast in terms of change if you consider that some of the values we are losing are important in a much bigger picture than we see at the moment.

(Click on thumbnail images to enlarge.)

Happy World Elephant Day!

August 12, 2015

For 30 years NWNL has studied Kenya’s iconic, charismatic jumbos that create water access for so many other species in the Mara River Basin. What can you do to celebrate and help elephants?
(scroll down for a few ideas 🙂 )

Participate in the #elegram project ———> and tell others to participate too!

Screen Shot 2015-08-11 at 2.56.47 PM

Send an E-Card for World Elephant Day!

Check out the World Elephant Day website for updates and news 🙂

Zambia:  Jeki, elephant ("Loxodonta africana") crossing Zambezi R.

Zambia: Jeki, elephant (“Loxodonta africana”) crossing Zambezi River

Kenya: Maasai (aka Masai) Mara National Reserve, Mara Conservancy, Mara Triangle, Trans Mora aerial (from helicopter), elephant near muddy tributary of Mara River,

Kenya: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Mara Conservancy, elephant near muddy tributary of Mara River

Freshwater supports all terrestrial biodiversity

August 7, 2015

BiodiversityFreshWater

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NWNL Hydro-graphics are created by Jenna Petrone.

Future of the Mekong River is at risk

July 14, 2015
Dam construction along Mekong River, Laos

Dam construction along Mekong River, Laos

The Mekong River in Southesast Asia is one of the world’s longest waterways, and flows through 6 countries: China, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. In November of 2014, NWNL followed the Mekong River from Chiang Khong, Thailand to Luang Prabang, Laos. This is part of the main stem of the river.

Development along the Mekong, Chiang Khong, Thailand, 2014

Development along the Mekong, Chiang Khong, Thailand, 2014

Mekong water used for crop irrigation, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Mekong water used for crop irrigation, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Fishery, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Fishery, Chiang Khong, Thailand

Fish make up 80% of the Southeast Asian diet.

Ame Trandem, Southeast Asia program director for the environmental group International Rivers, says the dam-building rush and climate change have brought the Mekong River Basin close to a “catastrophic tipping point”.

Dam construction in Laos

Dam construction in Laos

The proposal of several hydrodams would be devastating to millions of people who depend on the Mekong River for their livelihoods, food security, crop irrigation and let’s not forget wildlife!

Stay informed! Read more about this in “Cry Me a River.”

Check for updates on International Rivers and Save the Mekong.

Dam construction in Laos

Dam construction in Laos

Will there be enough water when the cranes return?

April 4, 2015

Will there be enough water for these Greater Sandhill Cranes when they return to the San Francisco Bay Delta this fall?

greater sandhill cranes

With the state’s snowpack down to 5% of average, the lowest ever recorded, Governor Brown has mandated a 25% water use reduction. This is the first time an involuntary water reduction mandate has been imposed. Although the means to meet this mandate has been left up to the local water districts, Brown’s executive directive includes some public assistance to replace 50 million square feet of lawns statewide with drought tolerant planting as well as reducing water use on golf courses, cemeteries and large institutions. There will also be a short-term rebate program to “provide monetary incentives for the replacement of inefficient household devices.”

It is important to note the inclusion of concerns for “degraded habitat for many fish and wildlife species, increase wildfire risk, and the threat of saltwater contamination to fresh water supplies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta” in his declaration. The Fresno Bee reported today that 50.2% of water use in California is by the environment, 40.9% by agriculture and 8.9% by residents and businesses. Although the 25% reduction is directed only at residential and business uses, water that goes to agriculture will now be closely monitored and evaluated for future plan making. This is an important step.

Everyone needs to use water wisely so that we may have enough water to drink, enough water for wildlife and their habitat, as well as enough to grow our food. The farmers in the Central Valley have already been hit hard with spartan allocations for the year. Produce prices will inevitably rise due to the higher cost of water, and the effect of the California drought will be felt across the country. It all comes down to the availability of water. Let’s all conserve. There is no more water, and what we have we are using up.

* Posted from San Francisco by Barbara Folger, NWNL Project Coordinator.

Happy Migratory Fish Species Day!

May 24, 2014

Kuki Gallmann, the first Ambassador for Migratory Species, has staged many celebrations of World Migratory Bird Day at her home in Kenya. NWNL Director was proud to attend the first of these joyful events. This year Kuki Gallmann released a video to mark World Migratory Bird Day. Her words (transcribed below by NWNL) apply equally to birds, fish and all migratory species.

KUKI GALLMANN: Back in 2006, when all over the world, migratory birds were killed, being accused of spreading the deadly avian flu. And they became a symbol of disease and death. I was proud to host the first ever World Migratory Bird Day on the Great Rift Valley of Kenya along the migratory route. At that time, artists from all over the world came to celebrate the beauty and magic, the mystery and freedom of the migratory birds.

On this very day, we’re far and wide. We spread the message of the importance of preserving these bridges amongst continents. I’m proud to add my voice as the first Ambassador for Migratory Species to the ones of my colleagues and friends, to children, to teachers, to conservationists across the globe. It is a time in which we have lost the link.

I recently received a message from a neighbor who asked me, “Where are the birds gone that used to travel to our lakes and watercourses?” We have interrupted their routes.   We have crisscrossed the skies with wires. We have threatened them by polluting the watercourses where they come after their long journeys.

International Celebration of World Migration Day hosted by Kuki Gallmann in Kenya, 2006.

International Celebration of World Migration Day hosted by Kuki Gallmann in Kenya, 2006.

We are killing the elephants – they’re also migratory. We are polluting the oceans. We have come to our senses before it is too late. At a time in which the world is divided, wars and many problems destroy peace on the planet. The migratory animals can be seen as ambassadors to peace. They don’t know about politics. They don’t know about religions. They don’t know about the small, short-time scheme of man. They’re a symbol of the superiority of nature over the menial things that destroy and pollute our own lives. I exhort the children particularly today, and my friends and colleagues across the Plant Earth to look again up at the sky at those amazing creatures flying over with endurance, with determination, guided by an ancient instinct stronger than we can explain and reestablish their evidence to respect and protect their habitat. All is connected.”

Thank you, Kuki, again for your eloquent and passionate support of migratory species.

Our Great Migrators

May 21, 2014

*NWNL thoughts prior to World Fish Migration Day-5/24.*

Many are unaware of the exquisite sarabande of life personified by our migratory species: anadromous fish, birds, monarch butterflies, dragonflies and others.

Most migratory species are threatened in one form or another during their annual passages by manmade impediments. Today, on expedition along the Snake River, NWNL is following the struggle of the Columbia River migratory salmon, steelhead and lamprey to overcome dams, pollution, warmer streams and other challenges as they seek their traditional spawning grounds. Fish passages at dams and fish hatcheries have helped them avoid extinction, but more help is needed to bring back healthy numbers of salmon.

US: Washington, Columbia River Basin, Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River, bypass for juvenile salmon migrating downstream.

A haiku to celebrate Nat’l Wildlife Week March 17-23! This year’s theme is wildlife + WATER!

March 18, 2014

the floating heron
pecks at it
till it shatters…
full moon on water
– zuiryu

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

How Wolves Change Rivers

February 26, 2014

This video, How Wolves Change Rivers, explains the “balance-of-nature“ phenomena scientists call a “trophic cascade.” NWNL also documented this on its Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Expedition in 2008. When wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park, it had a very beneficial impact on the ecosystem and on water flows. Although the video mislabels the elk as “deer”, its message is relevant.

The influence of just a small group of wolves on river systems is as magical as the cry of the wolf itself. For a sense of being on the Yellowstone River in the Missouri-Mississippi headwaters, do look at our Yellowstone Species photo gallery.

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

Gorillas in Uganda: “Landscape Architects” of the White Nile River Headwaters

April 26, 2013

NWNL is excited to share ranger-guide Gad Kanyangyeyo’s photo of a 1-day old gorilla sent to NWNL this week, confirming Wildlife Conservation Society’s news six months ago that Bwindi Impenetrable NP’s gorilla population has grown by 33% since 2006.

Uganda, Nile River Basin, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, gorilla trek, baby gorilla with mother, photo by Gad Kanyangyeyo

Uganda, Nile River Basin, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, one-day-old baby gorilla with mother, photo by Gad Kanyangyeyo

This 25,000-year-old montane rainforest, with elevations from 3800 to 5553 feet, is in southwest Uganda’s western edge of the Great Rift Valley.   One of the most biologically diverse areas on Earth, this forest is a faucet for the White Nile River Basin and also supplies 80% of the water supply of the contiguous country of Rwanda.  Worldwide, Bwindi is renowned for having more than half of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas.

In 2010 Gad led our gorilla trek in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. On our 12-hour journey on foot through Bwindi’s 128-sq-miles of thick jungle and steep ravines, he explained that it is the presence of the gorillas as a human tourist attraction that has saved these forests of over 160 species of trees from becoming fields for crops.  Eons ago the forest apparently covered much of western Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern Congo, but now it is only a small oasis in a dense rural area with more than 350 people per square kilometer.  Fortunately, because the endangered gorillas bring tourism dollars, Bwindi was set aside as a National Park in 1991.  Supported by collective efforts of Ugandan park staff, Bwindi’s surrounding communities such as Gad’s, local government and NGOs, the gorillas have become the conservation heroes of this source of White Nile waters, often called “The Place of Darkness.”

(Click on these photos to enlarge.)

Gad showed us how the gorillas are also the landscape architects of Bwindi, pointing out clumps of vines and branches where every night each troupe of gorillas tear down more vegetation for their families’ new overnight nests.  The gorillas’ daily opening up space in the forest’s canopy encourages the new growth that keeps Bwindi’s forest healthy.  Comparing this watershed with other NWNL case-study watersheds, the gorillas’ role in saving this dripping sponge of a forest is similar to the wolves’ role in Yellowstone in stopping elk from browsing riverine vegetation – and the rhinos’ and elephants’ roles in maintaining the savannas of the Mara River Basin.

No gorillas – no forest – no water – no life!

Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, walk to Munyaga Falls, ranger-guide Gad Kanyangyeyo and Alison M. Jones with WINGS flag

Uganda, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, walk to Munyaga Falls, ranger-guide Gad Kanyangyeyo and Alison M. Jones with WINGS expedition flag (fiscal sponsor for NWNL)

A passionate conservationist, Gad heard the NWNL story and mission and asked to be a Ugandan representative for NWNL as he involves community neighbors in conservation. What a great NWNL partner!   He is exuberant about the great diversity of flora and fauna that make this primeval montane forest a perennial faucet for the Albertine Nile.  He taught us that ferns, underfoot each step in Bwindi, were among the first pioneer flora on earth.  He identified cabbage trees (Anthocleista grandiflora) and pointed out the red cherry-like fruit and yellow-latex bark of  Symphonia globuliferae in the canopy.

Having now been a Bwindi ranger for 16 years, Gad wrote us that his passion for sharing and conserving this rainforest and its flora and fauna stems from his childhood experiences in this forest.  He outlined his story for NWNL to share:

When I was young, I used to travel with my older brothers, crisscrossing the forest of Bwindi – before it was protected as a national park (1991).   While smuggling goats, coffee and cows across the borders of Congo and Uganda, I learned the beauty of the forest.  In the forest, there was also gold mining and logging of timber.  We used to walk through the forest on logging roads carrying timber, which we put on the main road.  With that all experience, I loved the nature.  I was very much enjoying the forest.

These experiences were good enough to prepare me for my job now. Tourism here began in 1993; and since 1996 I have been working with the mountain gorillas under the Uganda Wildlife Authority.  I have received conservation training and have been working with the mountain gorillas of Uganda for 13 years.  I am now a conservation educator in Uganda because I like very much both plants and animals.  I educate visitors who come to see the gorillas and educate the local people about conservation.

(Click on these photos to enlarge.)

And this is the Bwindi legend Gad learned from childhood in the local Mukiga community:

The park is called Bwindi.  Bwindi is one of the richest forests in East Africa.  There are 150 bird species, 310 butterfly species, 324 tree species and 120 animal species.  Bwindi also has almost half of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas.

But what is Bwindi generally?  Bwindi is a dense forest with a very interesting name that originated from a very beautiful lady.  Many years ago, people used to migrate from the south to the north of Uganda.  A family was crossing the forest.  They reached a big swamp and they weren’t able to cross it.  They spent two days waiting until a spirit told them to sacrifice one of their beautiful ladies.  Their beautiful lady was called BWINDI BWA NYINA MUKALI.  After the lady was sacrificed, the family got a chance to cross the swamp.  The tale about the sacrifice was spread all over the area about the NYINA MUKALI lady.  From that date the forest is called Bwindi.

NWNL thanks Gad for sharing his passionate love of plants and animals and stepping forward to become one of Uganda’s conservation educators working with the mountain gorillas of Uganda and the White Nile River Basin.

Read NWNL’s 2010 post from Bwindi and the rest of NWNL Uganda/White Nile Expedition blogs.

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