Polar Round: Snow Leopard Trust
Organization's Mission: "Snow leopards live in vast home ranges - some cats have been known to use up to 1,000 square kilometers. While it is important to secure their key habitats through Protected Areas, it simply isn't enough.
To protect these endangered cats, we need to work at a larger landscape level, and find ways for snow leopards to coexist with the people sharing their habitat. This is the focus of our conservation approach.
Many of the families living in snow leopard habitat are herders who live on less than $2 per day and depend on their livestock for food and income. The snow leopard occasionally attacks and kills livestock, and members of these low-income communities sometimes resort to retaliation killings or poaching of snow leopards to protect their herds of livestock or earn extra money.
Our community-based conservation programs aim to break this cycle of poverty and create incentives for herders to protect local wildlife and ecosystems."
Why it's important to us: While I have always been a staunch supporter of wildlife conservation programs, I am well aware that in many situations, poachers are left with very few options to feed their families. For this reason, I greatly respect the efforts of the Snow Leopard Trust in working with local communities to protect these animals while also helping to provide income. Additionally, I appreciate that they are offering opportunities to village women to earn income for their families via Snow Leopard Enterprises.
Ocean Round: Orca Network (FB Page)
Organization's Mission: Orca Network is involved with extensive public outreach and education regarding orcas and other wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. They are involved with many active projects including: a sightings network with information being disseminated to researchers and volunteers, running the Langley Whale Center, and, perhaps most importantly, fostering an environment in the public to bring about action to save the languishing population of Southern Resident Orcas. Although this population faces several threats, the greatest one is starvation. As opposed to their open ocean counterparts, Southern Resident orcas' diets consist almost entirely of Chinook salmon. These populations are at an all-time low, compounded by dams built in the Snake River. For more on how you can help these animals from home, you can visit Orca Network's Actions page.
Why it's important to us: Like many young children, I was fascinated by whales and dolphins and grew up wanting to be a marine biologist. That dream didn't fade as I grew older as I pursued an education in Marine Science. Of particular interest to me were orcas (AKA killer whales) and especially the peaceful Southern Resident orcas of the Pacific Northwest. These fish-eating populations have been identified as a unique sub-species and are among the most researched animals in the world. However, they are under great duress and, at the time of this posting, their population is down to 74 individuals. It is uncertain whether they will make a recovery but, more than anything, I want my daughter to be able to see these magnificent creatures in the wild as I have had the great fortune to.
Message from Orca Network: Thank you for wanting to support efforts to help the So. Resident orcas. We have several different programs that help the So. Residents - our Sighting Network helps gather sightings data for researchers and agencies to learn where the whales are traveling/feeding, and it also promotes shore-based whale watching and educated hundreds of thousands of people about the amazing Southern Resident orcas and their need for salmon to survive. We do education and outreach, youth programs, and more through community events and through our Langley Whale Center, which educates about all the whales of the Salish Sea with a focus on Southern Resident orcas. We also have a Marine mammal stranding network, and through our work with necropsies of dead stranded porpoise, we are investigating emerging diseases that also affect our So. Resident orcas. We do a lot of salmon educating as part of our efforts to teach about So. Residents, and are part of the Orca Salmon Alliance, a group of orca and salmon nonprofits working to raise awareness of the importance of salmon to our orcas. Save Our Wild Salmon is one of the salmon organizations we work with, doing good work on behalf of our salmon. Thanks again.
Amount Raised: TBD
Preview Round: Ghana Sea Turtle Research and Conservation Program
Organization's Mission: University students are taken to Ghana each year to help build the local capacity for Ghanaians to protect and save their turtles through research, education and ecotourism. This approach has successfully eliminated poaching and harvesting, reduced fishery by-catch, increased awareness and attitude for protecting wildlife, and increased ecotourism in the area. Please click the link above to read more about past projects led by this group. Additionally, you can visit the African Sea Turtle Newsletter where Dr. Phil Allman is a frequent contributor.
Why it's important to us: This program is based out of our alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University. I spent nearly a decade here between my two environmental degrees as well as additional time spent working in different labs outside of my degrees. My husband, Juan, also received his M.S. degree at FGCU. By selecting a program run by the university, it is our small way of repaying the experiences and education we received there. The faculty and staff at FGCU have always been incredibly helpful and supportive of all my endeavors and I see that they continue to be so for countless other students. Now we get the chance to be supportive of them! More importantly, the work that Dr. Allman, Mr. Agyekumhene and their students have undertaken to protect sea turtles, while also working to educate local residents on the value of live animals, is incredibly important.
Amount Raised: $180
Message from Dr. Allman: The donation would be put toward education programs in a few communities beyond the reach of our current project area that we learned are still poaching turtles.