Wildlife Heroes 40 Leading Conservationists And The Animals They Are Committed To Saving

by Jeff Flocken and Julie Scardina

Author Jeff Flocken and Julie Scardina Isbn 9780762443192 File size 30 2 MB Year 2012 Pages 264 Language English File format PDF Category Animals With one third of known species being threatened with extinction wildlife conservationists are some of the most important heroes on the planet and Wildlife Heroes profiles the work of 40 of the leading conservationists and the animals and causes they are committed to saving such as Belinda Low zebras Iain Douglas Hamilton elephants Karen Eck

Publisher :

Author : Jeff Flocken and Julie Scardina

ISBN : 9780762443192

Year : 2012

Language: English

File Size : 30.2 MB

Category : Animals

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40 Leading Conservationists
and the Animals They Are
Committed to Saving
by Julie Scardina and
Jeff Flocken
with Photo Editor Sterling Zumbrunn

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© 2012 by Julie Scardina and Jeff Flocken
All rights reserved under the Pan-American and International Copyright Conventions.
Printed in China
This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without
written permission from the publisher.
Books published by Running Press are available at special discounts for bulk
purchases in the United States by corporations, institutions, and other organizations.
For more information, please contact the Special Markets Department at the
Perseus Books Group, 2300 Chestnut Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or call
(800) 810-4145, ext. 5000, or e-mail [email protected]
ISBN 978-0-7624-4319-2
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011939378
E-book ISBN 978-0-7624-4516-5
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Digit on the right indicates the number of this printing
Photo Editor Sterling Zumbrunn
Cover and interior design by Jason Kayser
Typography: Mercury and Proxima Nova
Running Press Book Publishers
2300 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-4371
Visit us on the web!
www.runningpress.com

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CONTENTS
6
8

Introduction

EARTH: WORKING ON THE GROUND
9

INTRODUCTION

55

by Kuki Gallmann

12

GREGORY RASMUSSEN

Jaguar

60

African Painted Dog

18

BELINDA LOW
CLAUDINE ANDRÉ

65

ROGÉRIO CUNHA DE PAULA

71

JOHN LUKAS

77

LUKE DOLLAR

82

PATRÍCIA MEDICI

88

RAOUL DU TOIT

94

LAURIE MARKER
Cheetah

100 IAIN DOUGLAS-HAMILTON

African Rhinoceroses

106

NGUYEN VAN THAI
Asian Pangolins

Tapirs

49

CLAUDIO SILLERO
Ethiopian Wolf

Fossa

44

SHIVANI BHALLA
Lion

Okapi

39

EUGENE RUTAGARAMA
Mountain Gorilla

Maned Wolf

34

CLAUDIA FEH
Przewalski’s Horse

Bonobo

29

ELENA BYKOVA
Saiga

Grevy’s Zebra

23

LEANDRO SILVEIRA

African Elephants

WATER: WORKING IN THE OCEANS AND RIVERS
107

INTRODUCTION

128

by Ted Danson

110

BRENT STEWART

Sea Turtles

134

Whale Shark

116

GERALD KOOYMAN
VERA DA SILVA
Amazon River Dolphin

AMANDA VINCENT
Seahorses

140

Emperor Penguin

122

KAREN ECKERT

DAVID WILEY
Great Whales

146

DIANE MCTURK
Giant River Otter

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152

AIR: WORKING IN THE SKY AND CANOPY
153

INTRODUCTION

177

by Stefanie Powers

156

ALISON JOLLY

Sun Bear

182

Lemurs

161

MERLIN TUTTLE
ROSAMIRA GUILLEN
Cotton-top Tamarin

171

DEBORAH TABART
Koala

187

Bats

166

SIEW TE WONG

GEORGE ARCHIBALD
Cranes

192

MARC ANCRENAZ
Bornean Orangutan

FELICITY ARENGO
South American Flamingos

198

FIRE: WORKING ON THE MOST CRITICAL WILDLIFE ISSUES
199

INTRODUCTION
by Jay Inslee

202 KASSIE SIEGEL
Climate Change

208 GRACE GE GABRIEL
Wildlife Consumption

214

JUDY ST. LEGER
Wildlife Disease

226 SYLVIA EARLE
Ocean Degradation

232 EDGARDO GRIFFITH
Amphibian Decline

238 STEVE GALSTER
Wildlife Trade

244 MAY BERENBAUM
Pollinator Decline

220 WANGARI MAATHAI
Habitat Loss

250

HOW TO HELP: WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
251

INTRODUCTION

254 DEEPER COMMITMENT

by Jack Hanna

253 DOING YOUR PART

256 SUPPORT THE WORK OF
THE HEROES

262 Acknowledgments

263 Photo Credits

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6 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

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INTRODUCTION

The wildlife heroes featured in this book are forty

These individual species, like the heroes

individuals we admire and respect—acclaimed for

selected for the book, were also chosen as being best

their vision, determination, and success. Some of

suited to bring a broader message of conservation

them we have known for many years and worked

need, and inspiration for action, to readers. We are

closely with, while others we only knew before this

compelled to feature these heroes, species and

book through knowledge of their impressive

issues as we both feel the heartbreak of what is hap-

accomplishments, or from their stellar reputations

pening to the wild animals and wild places we love.

in the field of wildlife conservation.

Unless more people help fight the war we are cur-

Admittedly, the assemblage of species we chose

rently losing to save species, wild lands, and ocean

to highlight show a bias of the authors, as we have

habitats, there will be far less of these incredible

our own personal love for certain animals and

creatures and environments left in the world.

direct experiences working in particular conserva-

The heroes in this book have dedicated their

tion arenas. So while we both have great fondness

lives to preserving these creatures; animals that

for critters like the obscure dwarf wedgemussel

are beloved by the world because they are both

and the underrated dung beetle, and understand

compelling and fascinating. We are proud to shine

their important roles in their habitats, this book

a light on them all. And we sincerely hope that

tends to feature the big charismatic species, the

this book will result in more support for the

same ones who rightly or wrongly tend to receive

heroes’ critical efforts and in meaningful gains in

the most conservation resources and public atten-

the struggle for existence of these amazing

tion. Luckily these same high-profile animals

species.

frequently serve vital roles as keystone, flagship,
and indicator species, thereby arguably deserving
the lion’s share of adoration they receive.

Julie Scardina and Jeff Flocken

7

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EARTH
WORKING ON THE GROUND

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CHAPTER INTRODUCTION
BY KUKI GALLMAN, ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF I DREAMED
OF AFRICA, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST, AND FOUNDER OF
THE GALLMAN AFRICA CONSERVANCY

Caring for Eden

and actively joined the great world environmental

It was about forty years ago that I moved to Kenya

movement. I decided to dedicate my life and

and acquired the responsibility to look after a

resources to making a difference and to make Ol

piece of heaven on the Eastern Great Rift Valley,

ari Nyiro an example of coexistence between

Ol ari Nyiro, a biodiversity oasis of rugged, dra-

people and the wild.

matic landscapes, with a relic forest and natural

I became a Kenya citizen and a spokesperson

springs, gorges, and ravines, where endemic

for my adopted country on matters of environ-

species of wildlife and flora survived and still do,

ment, and transformed the place from an

in stark contrast with the now degraded landscape

operating livestock ranch into a nature conser-

surrounding us, from where most indigenous

vancy with no domestic stock, where all life is

vegetation has been removed.

nurtured and protected.

In the very early ’80s, after the tragic deaths of

What was happening at that time? With the col-

both my husband and my son within a short space

lapse of Somalia and deserters from that country’s

of time, witnessing the tragic environmental

army infiltrating the northern parts of Kenya—their

degradation and loss of habitat and species occur-

only wealth their weapons—the killing of rhino and

ring all around Kenya, I resisted attempts from

elephants became an unprecedented issue in Kenya,

friends and family to get me to abandon Ol ari

and, having lost nine black indigenous rhinoceros in

Nyiro to its destiny and return to my native Italy,

Ol ari Nyiro in less than one year, I decided to do

9

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something about it. I started the first private
antipoaching unit in Kenya.
What was beginning to happen—and has hap-

The commitment to active conservation of
the wild parts and inhabitants of our Earth
demands time, stamina, vision, dedication, and

pened since—all around us, and throughout Africa

daring. It can be dangerous, but in my case, despite

and the planet, is the drastic restriction in wildlife

several physical attacks (one of which crippled my

habitat, pressures of all kinds due mostly to popula-

left hand) and endless threats, this is one battle

tion increase, change of land use from pastoral to

that I am determined to keep fighting with all the

agricultural land, consequent interruption of

means at my disposal since I passionately believe

migratory routes, deforestation, pollution, over-

in our responsibility to protect what has never

grazing, erosion, siltage in lakes, climate change

been easier to destroy.

with subsequent droughts, lack of job opportunities

I am honored to introduce this impressive list

for growing populations of tribal youth and the

of wildlife heroes, all leaders in their chosen fields,

concurrent growth of demand for wildlife products

men and women of extraordinary expertise, talent,

in the surging markets of the Far East, insecurity,

and courage, who spend and often risk their lives in

tribal conflicts, and, in Kenya, the proliferation of

the front line of conservation in remote and often

small weapons from the troubled neighborhood of

lonely parts of our planet, to ensure that today’s

Somalia and the Sudan.

species will not become tomorrow’s dinosaurs.

This, in conjunction with the soaring black markets stimulated throughout the Continent as a
consequence of the sales of ivory allowed by CITES in
2007, after the twenty-year moratorium in all sales initiated by the ivory fire in Kenya in 1989, has signified
an increase in poaching and illegal trade of animal
body parts throughout the continent of Africa, and in
particular from elephants, rhino, lions, snakes
(pythons), tortoises, in addition to leopards, and
plants—African sandalwood, a once-common shrub,
has become rare—just to mention the most dramatic
and tangible species loss. As an honorary game
warden with the Kenya Wildlife Service, I have committed to do all in my capacity to fight the illegal trade
that is at the root of the cruel and senseless killings
that I witness continuously in the African bush.

10 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

Your contribution is incalculable, and with
deep respect and gratitude, I salute you.

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Greg RasmuSseN
AFRICAN PAINTED DOG
“Learning about [their] loyal behavior
has made a big impression on both those
who work with African painted dogs
and even those who previously hated the
dogs, but now are willing to share
their land with them.”

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FA S T FA C T S
African Painted Dog

Gregory Rasmussen
f Education: PhD from Oxford University, United
Kingdom
f Nationality: British

f Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus
f Range: Painted dogs formerly occupied a wide
range of habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa;
however, they are now extirpated from 25 of 39 former
range states.
f Population Trend: Declining. There are an estimated
3,000 to 5,500 painted dogs left on the entire
African continent.
f IUCN* Status: Endangered

f Organizational Affiliation: Painted Dog Conservation
f Years Working with African Painted Dogs: 24
f Honors: Whitley Wildinvest Continuation Award
for Conservation (2001); Wildlife Society Annual Award
(2000); Whitley Runner-up Award for Conservation
(1999); and Research on Ocean Currents in the
Atlantic (1978)
f Notable Accomplishments: Appointed to the
IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group; selected to join
North and South Poles Transglobe Expedition; founded
the Painted Dog Conservation organization; named a
Wildlife Conservation Network partner; helped double
the African painted dog population in Zimbabwe

* IUCN here and elsewhere stands for the International Union for
Conservation of Nature.

G

REG Rasmussen hates the name many people

painted dogs but also as “African hunting dogs,”

have given his favorite animals. “They are not

“Cape hunting dogs,” and “spotted dogs.” “When my

simply ‘wild’ dogs; they are not feral domesticated

mother first read about the animals I was intent on

canines with which people confuse them because

studying many years ago,” he says, “she was fearful

of their name. When people know nothing about

for my life, as there were so many awful and false

them, they fear them. Instead,” Rasmussen coun-

descriptions of the dogs in books she read.” Today

ters, “they are beautiful and endangered ‘painted

those myths carry on in many of the animal’s range

dogs’ which need our understanding and assistance

countries. “Most people grow up being told to shoot

if they are going to continue to survive in Africa.”

the dogs on sight because they think they are cruel,

Rasmussen is particularly sensitive about misperceptions of these social and wide-ranging
canines—known not only as African wild dogs and

bloodthirsty, savage, and no good to anyone.”
Rasmussen started working with painted
dogs in 1989, when he was overwhelmed by the

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What You Should Know
about African Painted
Dogs
f Painted dogs are not domesticated
dogs that have run wild, but rather
a distinct species that evolved
separately from other canids. Their
scientific name translated from Latin
means “painted wolflike animal.”
f Between 43 and 70 percent of wild
dog hunts end in success compared
to lesser success rates of many other
predators, such as lions, which are
successful only an estimated 27 to 32
percent of the time.
f Painted dogs have been shown
to mourn for deceased pack members.

human-induced carnage to this highly endangered species. “No
sooner than I had identified the presence of this rare animal did I
find that shortly afterwards, they had momentarily left the sanctuary of the national park and were either shot by ranchers,
killed on the road, or caught in poachers’ snares set for bushmeat. These senseless mortalities distressed me deeply, and so I
decided to make the species my flagship in the hope of ‘making a
difference.’” He started with neither funding nor accommodation
and precious few savings, and he was distrusted by just about
everyone—the local Africans, ranchers, and even safari operators
who did not recognize the dogs’ potential value. Winning confidences—without falling off the track—became the issue.
To combat this, he started a major awareness campaign alerting people to the truths about the species and the problems they
faced. Rasmussen’s vehicle, which also served as his home in the
beginning, frequently touched ranchland areas where it was not
welcome, and he was seen as much a problem as the dogs them-

f The loss of just one adult pack
member—whether to a snare, a
vehicle, or a gunshot—can spell
doom for the entire pack, as every
dog is needed to hunt and protect
the pups.
f Painted dogs allow pups to feed
first after a kill and will bring food
back to any pack member that, due
to injury, illness, or “babysitting
duties,” cannot participate.

selves. Rasmussen and his programs became a point of vociferous
public discussion. He recalls being delighted at receiving a call
from a rancher who said he was going to “bury him” because the
dogs had expanded to the point that they were now on his ranch
and Rasmussen was “responsible.” The very fact that he called
said one thing; the fact that the dogs had expanded into a new
area said even more. Years before, the rancher would simply have
killed the dogs and not considered calling. Rasmussen translocated the animals to a safer area, thus demonstrating his ability
and willingness to do whatever was necessary to keep them alive.
A decade after Rasmussen started his painted dog work,
Zimbabwe overnight became a turbulent mix of conflict, lawlessness, increased poverty, and starvation, and once again African
painted dogs were in jeopardy. Snaring, a technique using wire to
catch animals for meat and sale, hit astronomical proportions,
and painted dogs often fell victim to these death traps. All the

14 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

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gains of the previous years were threatened. It was
back to the drawing board for Rasmussen, though
this time accompanied by Peter Blinston, who came
from the UK to “help out” for a few months and
ended up staying on. In a climate where few locals
had much to rely on, the tenacity of the project carried through and the Painted Dog Conservation
project (PDC) was expanded to include the community as partners.
As conservation ignorance is Rasmussen’s greatest enemy, the program of which he is most proud is
the organization’s Children’s Bush Camp. The effort
introduces local kids to native wildlife, as well as to
the dogs at the PDC rescue center. “Zimbabwe children, as in many other countries, often never get the
chance to experience or learn positive things about
wildlife in their own nation. Once they do, they are

is busy addressing them all. Besides education,

forever changed,” relates Rasmussen. The children

there are concrete, practical solutions that can save

attend classes, perform skits, write reports, and visit

individual dogs’ lives. For example, PDC places

Hwange National Park to see animals in the wild.

wide, spiked, reflective collars on dogs, which serve

The kids even get a “surprise” encounter with the

multiple purposes.

normally elusive painted dogs by taking a nature

First, they can aid in freeing the dogs. The

walk down a long, raised walkway through the res-

spikes on these collars help break or prevent tight-

cued dogs’ enclosure right before feeding time. The

ening of snare wire, often placed to catch other

dogs are then released and come running toward

game animals, but sometimes catching dogs instead

their meal, right beneath where the children are

when they investigate the bait. Reflective material

standing, to their complete thrill and astonishment.

on the collars helps warn drivers of dogs crossing

Painted dogs used to regularly roam over much

the road at night. The collars also double as radio

of Africa, their range extending to thirty-nine coun-

transmitters, helping to keep track of packs and

tries. Now there are estimated to be fewer than

their movements and add to the body of knowledge

fifty-five hundred painted dogs in all of Africa.

about these misunderstood animals. Coupled with

Shooting, snares, and road strikes are the major

road signs at common dog crossing points, radio

threats, and the Painted Dog Conservation program

collaring has reduced road mortality by 50 percent.

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This lesson in compassion can be learned from
the dogs themselves. When a pack member is
injured, the rest of the pack, adults and pups alike,
will take care of it, bring it food, and lick its wounds
until it has recovered. “Learning about that loyal
behavior has made a big impression on both those
who work with African painted dogs and those
who previously hated them, but now are willing to
share their land with them.”
In 2003, Rasmussen found himself in a dire
situation when he crashed his plane while helping
the National Parks Service look for a rhino. Since
he crashed outside of the search area, he spent
more than twenty-four hours in the wilderness
with broken legs, ankles, and pelvis before help
arrived. The crash was made legendary by the
retelling both in a Discovery Channel documenPDC is a popular employer of locals, who find

tary and on a television series called Alive.

careers as dog keepers, educators, researchers,

Rasmussen has recovered, but is forbidden by his

anti-poaching patrol team members, bus drivers,

friends and associates to ever fly again. Many

facility maintenance workers, and cooks. “It has

would have quit working in the bush after such a

made a difference that we are a relatively stable

terrifying near-death experience. But Rasmussen

provider during some of the worst economic times

remains committed to the painted dogs and their

the country has ever seen,” Rasmussen says. “We

future survival. “Painted dogs have increased

take care of the dogs and the people.”

from just 350 to 700 animals in Zimbabwe since

PDC has become somewhat of a regional phe-

we started our programs twenty years ago. My

nomenon. Neighboring communities are impressed

colleagues and I have faced many challenges

with the work Rasmussen has accomplished, and

along the way—but the news is positive overall.

the dogs’ reputation has improved. “People around

Whether you call them painted dogs, African

here are now telling us when they see dogs in the

hunting dogs, or spotted dogs—there are more

wild, and if someone finds an injured one—by car

around today than there were when I started

collision or snare, they will often alert us so we can

working with them, and that’s a great sign for

try to save the dog.”

their future!”

16 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

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Why It Is Important
To Save African
Painted Dogs
Painted dogs are the only living
representative of a distinct line of
wolflike species of a lineage
several million years old. This
genetic uniqueness is very valuable
to biodiversity.

17

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BELINDA LoW
GREVY’S ZEBRA
“It was only when I started working
with them that I understood the magnitude
of their decline. I didn’t want these
beautiful animals to disappear from my
homeland.”

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FA S T FA C T S
Grevy’s Zebra

Belinda Low
f Education: Master’s from Durrell Institute of
Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, United
Kingdom

f Scientific Name: Equus grevyi

f Nationality: Kenyan and British

f Range: This species was once found throughout
most of Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia but is
now found only in northern Kenya and isolated
pockets in Ethiopia.

f Organizational Affiliation: Grevy’s Zebra Trust

f Population Trend: Considered stable now due to
protection and conservation efforts. It is estimated that
fewer than 3,000 Grevy’s zebras are left in the wild.
f IUCN Status: Endangered

B

f Years Working with Grevy’s Zebras: 10
f Notable Accomplishments: Founded the Grevy’s
Zebra Scout Programme; developed the Northern
Rangelands Endangered Species Program; certified
educator in holistic management used to improve habitat deterioration; founding member of Kenya’s Grevy’s
Zebra Task Force

ELINDA Low, born and raised in Kenya, has

pastoralists. As keepers of livestock, they have an

nearly always regarded the Grevy’s zebra as one

intrinsic knowledge of nature that has served them

of the most spectacular large animals on the

well for centuries; life-giving rain supplied regularly

planet—and for good reason. It is striking, powerful,

twice a year has helped them and the animals sur-

unique, and endangered.

vive on the arid land. But things are changing. The

Kenya is home to 95 percent of Grevy’s zebras,

rains are no longer predictable—or often, as plentiful.

but it wasn’t until after Low began studying this lim-

“The future of these peoples’ livelihoods and the sur-

ited-range species that they became her passion and

vival of the Grevy’s zebra are inextricably linked.”

focus. “It was only when I started working with them

Today, Low is teaching a low-tech method of

that I understood the magnitude of their decline. I

range management using the same cattle that once

didn’t want these beautiful animals to disappear from

competed with the zebras, but now help till and

my homeland,” she says. “I had to do something.”

enrich the soil and restore native grasses for

Low works as much with the people who share

wildlife. Cattle are kept in smaller but mobile graz-

the same land and resources of Grevy’s zebras as

ing areas to rid selected zones of invasive grasses.

she does with the zebras themselves. Where the

In the process, the cattle provide natural fertilizer

zebras range in northern Kenya, people are mainly

and a churning of the Earth by their hooves. Once

19

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40 Leading Conservationists
and the Animals They Are
Committed to Saving
by Julie Scardina and
Jeff Flocken
with Photo Editor Sterling Zumbrunn

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Page 2

© 2012 by Julie Scardina and Jeff Flocken
All rights reserved under the Pan-American and International Copyright Conventions.
Printed in China
This book may not be reproduced in whole or in part, in any form or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any
information storage and retrieval system now known or hereafter invented, without
written permission from the publisher.
Books published by Running Press are available at special discounts for bulk
purchases in the United States by corporations, institutions, and other organizations.
For more information, please contact the Special Markets Department at the
Perseus Books Group, 2300 Chestnut Street, Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or call
(800) 810-4145, ext. 5000, or e-mail [email protected]
ISBN 978-0-7624-4319-2
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011939378
E-book ISBN 978-0-7624-4516-5
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Digit on the right indicates the number of this printing
Photo Editor Sterling Zumbrunn
Cover and interior design by Jason Kayser
Typography: Mercury and Proxima Nova
Running Press Book Publishers
2300 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-4371
Visit us on the web!
www.runningpress.com

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CONTENTS
6
8

Introduction

EARTH: WORKING ON THE GROUND
9

INTRODUCTION

55

by Kuki Gallmann

12

GREGORY RASMUSSEN

Jaguar

60

African Painted Dog

18

BELINDA LOW
CLAUDINE ANDRÉ

65

ROGÉRIO CUNHA DE PAULA

71

JOHN LUKAS

77

LUKE DOLLAR

82

PATRÍCIA MEDICI

88

RAOUL DU TOIT

94

LAURIE MARKER
Cheetah

100 IAIN DOUGLAS-HAMILTON

African Rhinoceroses

106

NGUYEN VAN THAI
Asian Pangolins

Tapirs

49

CLAUDIO SILLERO
Ethiopian Wolf

Fossa

44

SHIVANI BHALLA
Lion

Okapi

39

EUGENE RUTAGARAMA
Mountain Gorilla

Maned Wolf

34

CLAUDIA FEH
Przewalski’s Horse

Bonobo

29

ELENA BYKOVA
Saiga

Grevy’s Zebra

23

LEANDRO SILVEIRA

African Elephants

WATER: WORKING IN THE OCEANS AND RIVERS
107

INTRODUCTION

128

by Ted Danson

110

BRENT STEWART

Sea Turtles

134

Whale Shark

116

GERALD KOOYMAN
VERA DA SILVA
Amazon River Dolphin

AMANDA VINCENT
Seahorses

140

Emperor Penguin

122

KAREN ECKERT

DAVID WILEY
Great Whales

146

DIANE MCTURK
Giant River Otter

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152

AIR: WORKING IN THE SKY AND CANOPY
153

INTRODUCTION

177

by Stefanie Powers

156

ALISON JOLLY

Sun Bear

182

Lemurs

161

MERLIN TUTTLE
ROSAMIRA GUILLEN
Cotton-top Tamarin

171

DEBORAH TABART
Koala

187

Bats

166

SIEW TE WONG

GEORGE ARCHIBALD
Cranes

192

MARC ANCRENAZ
Bornean Orangutan

FELICITY ARENGO
South American Flamingos

198

FIRE: WORKING ON THE MOST CRITICAL WILDLIFE ISSUES
199

INTRODUCTION
by Jay Inslee

202 KASSIE SIEGEL
Climate Change

208 GRACE GE GABRIEL
Wildlife Consumption

214

JUDY ST. LEGER
Wildlife Disease

226 SYLVIA EARLE
Ocean Degradation

232 EDGARDO GRIFFITH
Amphibian Decline

238 STEVE GALSTER
Wildlife Trade

244 MAY BERENBAUM
Pollinator Decline

220 WANGARI MAATHAI
Habitat Loss

250

HOW TO HELP: WORKING TOGETHER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
251

INTRODUCTION

254 DEEPER COMMITMENT

by Jack Hanna

253 DOING YOUR PART

256 SUPPORT THE WORK OF
THE HEROES

262 Acknowledgments

263 Photo Credits

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6 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

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INTRODUCTION

The wildlife heroes featured in this book are forty

These individual species, like the heroes

individuals we admire and respect—acclaimed for

selected for the book, were also chosen as being best

their vision, determination, and success. Some of

suited to bring a broader message of conservation

them we have known for many years and worked

need, and inspiration for action, to readers. We are

closely with, while others we only knew before this

compelled to feature these heroes, species and

book through knowledge of their impressive

issues as we both feel the heartbreak of what is hap-

accomplishments, or from their stellar reputations

pening to the wild animals and wild places we love.

in the field of wildlife conservation.

Unless more people help fight the war we are cur-

Admittedly, the assemblage of species we chose

rently losing to save species, wild lands, and ocean

to highlight show a bias of the authors, as we have

habitats, there will be far less of these incredible

our own personal love for certain animals and

creatures and environments left in the world.

direct experiences working in particular conserva-

The heroes in this book have dedicated their

tion arenas. So while we both have great fondness

lives to preserving these creatures; animals that

for critters like the obscure dwarf wedgemussel

are beloved by the world because they are both

and the underrated dung beetle, and understand

compelling and fascinating. We are proud to shine

their important roles in their habitats, this book

a light on them all. And we sincerely hope that

tends to feature the big charismatic species, the

this book will result in more support for the

same ones who rightly or wrongly tend to receive

heroes’ critical efforts and in meaningful gains in

the most conservation resources and public atten-

the struggle for existence of these amazing

tion. Luckily these same high-profile animals

species.

frequently serve vital roles as keystone, flagship,
and indicator species, thereby arguably deserving
the lion’s share of adoration they receive.

Julie Scardina and Jeff Flocken

7

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EARTH
WORKING ON THE GROUND

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CHAPTER INTRODUCTION
BY KUKI GALLMAN, ACCLAIMED AUTHOR OF I DREAMED
OF AFRICA, ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST, AND FOUNDER OF
THE GALLMAN AFRICA CONSERVANCY

Caring for Eden

and actively joined the great world environmental

It was about forty years ago that I moved to Kenya

movement. I decided to dedicate my life and

and acquired the responsibility to look after a

resources to making a difference and to make Ol

piece of heaven on the Eastern Great Rift Valley,

ari Nyiro an example of coexistence between

Ol ari Nyiro, a biodiversity oasis of rugged, dra-

people and the wild.

matic landscapes, with a relic forest and natural

I became a Kenya citizen and a spokesperson

springs, gorges, and ravines, where endemic

for my adopted country on matters of environ-

species of wildlife and flora survived and still do,

ment, and transformed the place from an

in stark contrast with the now degraded landscape

operating livestock ranch into a nature conser-

surrounding us, from where most indigenous

vancy with no domestic stock, where all life is

vegetation has been removed.

nurtured and protected.

In the very early ’80s, after the tragic deaths of

What was happening at that time? With the col-

both my husband and my son within a short space

lapse of Somalia and deserters from that country’s

of time, witnessing the tragic environmental

army infiltrating the northern parts of Kenya—their

degradation and loss of habitat and species occur-

only wealth their weapons—the killing of rhino and

ring all around Kenya, I resisted attempts from

elephants became an unprecedented issue in Kenya,

friends and family to get me to abandon Ol ari

and, having lost nine black indigenous rhinoceros in

Nyiro to its destiny and return to my native Italy,

Ol ari Nyiro in less than one year, I decided to do

9

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something about it. I started the first private
antipoaching unit in Kenya.
What was beginning to happen—and has hap-

The commitment to active conservation of
the wild parts and inhabitants of our Earth
demands time, stamina, vision, dedication, and

pened since—all around us, and throughout Africa

daring. It can be dangerous, but in my case, despite

and the planet, is the drastic restriction in wildlife

several physical attacks (one of which crippled my

habitat, pressures of all kinds due mostly to popula-

left hand) and endless threats, this is one battle

tion increase, change of land use from pastoral to

that I am determined to keep fighting with all the

agricultural land, consequent interruption of

means at my disposal since I passionately believe

migratory routes, deforestation, pollution, over-

in our responsibility to protect what has never

grazing, erosion, siltage in lakes, climate change

been easier to destroy.

with subsequent droughts, lack of job opportunities

I am honored to introduce this impressive list

for growing populations of tribal youth and the

of wildlife heroes, all leaders in their chosen fields,

concurrent growth of demand for wildlife products

men and women of extraordinary expertise, talent,

in the surging markets of the Far East, insecurity,

and courage, who spend and often risk their lives in

tribal conflicts, and, in Kenya, the proliferation of

the front line of conservation in remote and often

small weapons from the troubled neighborhood of

lonely parts of our planet, to ensure that today’s

Somalia and the Sudan.

species will not become tomorrow’s dinosaurs.

This, in conjunction with the soaring black markets stimulated throughout the Continent as a
consequence of the sales of ivory allowed by CITES in
2007, after the twenty-year moratorium in all sales initiated by the ivory fire in Kenya in 1989, has signified
an increase in poaching and illegal trade of animal
body parts throughout the continent of Africa, and in
particular from elephants, rhino, lions, snakes
(pythons), tortoises, in addition to leopards, and
plants—African sandalwood, a once-common shrub,
has become rare—just to mention the most dramatic
and tangible species loss. As an honorary game
warden with the Kenya Wildlife Service, I have committed to do all in my capacity to fight the illegal trade
that is at the root of the cruel and senseless killings
that I witness continuously in the African bush.

10 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

Your contribution is incalculable, and with
deep respect and gratitude, I salute you.

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Greg RasmuSseN
AFRICAN PAINTED DOG
“Learning about [their] loyal behavior
has made a big impression on both those
who work with African painted dogs
and even those who previously hated the
dogs, but now are willing to share
their land with them.”

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FA S T FA C T S
African Painted Dog

Gregory Rasmussen
f Education: PhD from Oxford University, United
Kingdom
f Nationality: British

f Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus
f Range: Painted dogs formerly occupied a wide
range of habitats throughout sub-Saharan Africa;
however, they are now extirpated from 25 of 39 former
range states.
f Population Trend: Declining. There are an estimated
3,000 to 5,500 painted dogs left on the entire
African continent.
f IUCN* Status: Endangered

f Organizational Affiliation: Painted Dog Conservation
f Years Working with African Painted Dogs: 24
f Honors: Whitley Wildinvest Continuation Award
for Conservation (2001); Wildlife Society Annual Award
(2000); Whitley Runner-up Award for Conservation
(1999); and Research on Ocean Currents in the
Atlantic (1978)
f Notable Accomplishments: Appointed to the
IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group; selected to join
North and South Poles Transglobe Expedition; founded
the Painted Dog Conservation organization; named a
Wildlife Conservation Network partner; helped double
the African painted dog population in Zimbabwe

* IUCN here and elsewhere stands for the International Union for
Conservation of Nature.

G

REG Rasmussen hates the name many people

painted dogs but also as “African hunting dogs,”

have given his favorite animals. “They are not

“Cape hunting dogs,” and “spotted dogs.” “When my

simply ‘wild’ dogs; they are not feral domesticated

mother first read about the animals I was intent on

canines with which people confuse them because

studying many years ago,” he says, “she was fearful

of their name. When people know nothing about

for my life, as there were so many awful and false

them, they fear them. Instead,” Rasmussen coun-

descriptions of the dogs in books she read.” Today

ters, “they are beautiful and endangered ‘painted

those myths carry on in many of the animal’s range

dogs’ which need our understanding and assistance

countries. “Most people grow up being told to shoot

if they are going to continue to survive in Africa.”

the dogs on sight because they think they are cruel,

Rasmussen is particularly sensitive about misperceptions of these social and wide-ranging
canines—known not only as African wild dogs and

bloodthirsty, savage, and no good to anyone.”
Rasmussen started working with painted
dogs in 1989, when he was overwhelmed by the

13

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What You Should Know
about African Painted
Dogs
f Painted dogs are not domesticated
dogs that have run wild, but rather
a distinct species that evolved
separately from other canids. Their
scientific name translated from Latin
means “painted wolflike animal.”
f Between 43 and 70 percent of wild
dog hunts end in success compared
to lesser success rates of many other
predators, such as lions, which are
successful only an estimated 27 to 32
percent of the time.
f Painted dogs have been shown
to mourn for deceased pack members.

human-induced carnage to this highly endangered species. “No
sooner than I had identified the presence of this rare animal did I
find that shortly afterwards, they had momentarily left the sanctuary of the national park and were either shot by ranchers,
killed on the road, or caught in poachers’ snares set for bushmeat. These senseless mortalities distressed me deeply, and so I
decided to make the species my flagship in the hope of ‘making a
difference.’” He started with neither funding nor accommodation
and precious few savings, and he was distrusted by just about
everyone—the local Africans, ranchers, and even safari operators
who did not recognize the dogs’ potential value. Winning confidences—without falling off the track—became the issue.
To combat this, he started a major awareness campaign alerting people to the truths about the species and the problems they
faced. Rasmussen’s vehicle, which also served as his home in the
beginning, frequently touched ranchland areas where it was not
welcome, and he was seen as much a problem as the dogs them-

f The loss of just one adult pack
member—whether to a snare, a
vehicle, or a gunshot—can spell
doom for the entire pack, as every
dog is needed to hunt and protect
the pups.
f Painted dogs allow pups to feed
first after a kill and will bring food
back to any pack member that, due
to injury, illness, or “babysitting
duties,” cannot participate.

selves. Rasmussen and his programs became a point of vociferous
public discussion. He recalls being delighted at receiving a call
from a rancher who said he was going to “bury him” because the
dogs had expanded to the point that they were now on his ranch
and Rasmussen was “responsible.” The very fact that he called
said one thing; the fact that the dogs had expanded into a new
area said even more. Years before, the rancher would simply have
killed the dogs and not considered calling. Rasmussen translocated the animals to a safer area, thus demonstrating his ability
and willingness to do whatever was necessary to keep them alive.
A decade after Rasmussen started his painted dog work,
Zimbabwe overnight became a turbulent mix of conflict, lawlessness, increased poverty, and starvation, and once again African
painted dogs were in jeopardy. Snaring, a technique using wire to
catch animals for meat and sale, hit astronomical proportions,
and painted dogs often fell victim to these death traps. All the

14 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

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gains of the previous years were threatened. It was
back to the drawing board for Rasmussen, though
this time accompanied by Peter Blinston, who came
from the UK to “help out” for a few months and
ended up staying on. In a climate where few locals
had much to rely on, the tenacity of the project carried through and the Painted Dog Conservation
project (PDC) was expanded to include the community as partners.
As conservation ignorance is Rasmussen’s greatest enemy, the program of which he is most proud is
the organization’s Children’s Bush Camp. The effort
introduces local kids to native wildlife, as well as to
the dogs at the PDC rescue center. “Zimbabwe children, as in many other countries, often never get the
chance to experience or learn positive things about
wildlife in their own nation. Once they do, they are

is busy addressing them all. Besides education,

forever changed,” relates Rasmussen. The children

there are concrete, practical solutions that can save

attend classes, perform skits, write reports, and visit

individual dogs’ lives. For example, PDC places

Hwange National Park to see animals in the wild.

wide, spiked, reflective collars on dogs, which serve

The kids even get a “surprise” encounter with the

multiple purposes.

normally elusive painted dogs by taking a nature

First, they can aid in freeing the dogs. The

walk down a long, raised walkway through the res-

spikes on these collars help break or prevent tight-

cued dogs’ enclosure right before feeding time. The

ening of snare wire, often placed to catch other

dogs are then released and come running toward

game animals, but sometimes catching dogs instead

their meal, right beneath where the children are

when they investigate the bait. Reflective material

standing, to their complete thrill and astonishment.

on the collars helps warn drivers of dogs crossing

Painted dogs used to regularly roam over much

the road at night. The collars also double as radio

of Africa, their range extending to thirty-nine coun-

transmitters, helping to keep track of packs and

tries. Now there are estimated to be fewer than

their movements and add to the body of knowledge

fifty-five hundred painted dogs in all of Africa.

about these misunderstood animals. Coupled with

Shooting, snares, and road strikes are the major

road signs at common dog crossing points, radio

threats, and the Painted Dog Conservation program

collaring has reduced road mortality by 50 percent.

15

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This lesson in compassion can be learned from
the dogs themselves. When a pack member is
injured, the rest of the pack, adults and pups alike,
will take care of it, bring it food, and lick its wounds
until it has recovered. “Learning about that loyal
behavior has made a big impression on both those
who work with African painted dogs and those
who previously hated them, but now are willing to
share their land with them.”
In 2003, Rasmussen found himself in a dire
situation when he crashed his plane while helping
the National Parks Service look for a rhino. Since
he crashed outside of the search area, he spent
more than twenty-four hours in the wilderness
with broken legs, ankles, and pelvis before help
arrived. The crash was made legendary by the
retelling both in a Discovery Channel documenPDC is a popular employer of locals, who find

tary and on a television series called Alive.

careers as dog keepers, educators, researchers,

Rasmussen has recovered, but is forbidden by his

anti-poaching patrol team members, bus drivers,

friends and associates to ever fly again. Many

facility maintenance workers, and cooks. “It has

would have quit working in the bush after such a

made a difference that we are a relatively stable

terrifying near-death experience. But Rasmussen

provider during some of the worst economic times

remains committed to the painted dogs and their

the country has ever seen,” Rasmussen says. “We

future survival. “Painted dogs have increased

take care of the dogs and the people.”

from just 350 to 700 animals in Zimbabwe since

PDC has become somewhat of a regional phe-

we started our programs twenty years ago. My

nomenon. Neighboring communities are impressed

colleagues and I have faced many challenges

with the work Rasmussen has accomplished, and

along the way—but the news is positive overall.

the dogs’ reputation has improved. “People around

Whether you call them painted dogs, African

here are now telling us when they see dogs in the

hunting dogs, or spotted dogs—there are more

wild, and if someone finds an injured one—by car

around today than there were when I started

collision or snare, they will often alert us so we can

working with them, and that’s a great sign for

try to save the dog.”

their future!”

16 ✚ WILDLIFE HEROES

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Why It Is Important
To Save African
Painted Dogs
Painted dogs are the only living
representative of a distinct line of
wolflike species of a lineage
several million years old. This
genetic uniqueness is very valuable
to biodiversity.

17

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BELINDA LoW
GREVY’S ZEBRA
“It was only when I started working
with them that I understood the magnitude
of their decline. I didn’t want these
beautiful animals to disappear from my
homeland.”

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FA S T FA C T S
Grevy’s Zebra

Belinda Low
f Education: Master’s from Durrell Institute of
Conservation and Ecology, University of Kent, United
Kingdom

f Scientific Name: Equus grevyi

f Nationality: Kenyan and British

f Range: This species was once found throughout
most of Kenya, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia but is
now found only in northern Kenya and isolated
pockets in Ethiopia.

f Organizational Affiliation: Grevy’s Zebra Trust

f Population Trend: Considered stable now due to
protection and conservation efforts. It is estimated that
fewer than 3,000 Grevy’s zebras are left in the wild.
f IUCN Status: Endangered

B

f Years Working with Grevy’s Zebras: 10
f Notable Accomplishments: Founded the Grevy’s
Zebra Scout Programme; developed the Northern
Rangelands Endangered Species Program; certified
educator in holistic management used to improve habitat deterioration; founding member of Kenya’s Grevy’s
Zebra Task Force

ELINDA Low, born and raised in Kenya, has

pastoralists. As keepers of livestock, they have an

nearly always regarded the Grevy’s zebra as one

intrinsic knowledge of nature that has served them

of the most spectacular large animals on the

well for centuries; life-giving rain supplied regularly

planet—and for good reason. It is striking, powerful,

twice a year has helped them and the animals sur-

unique, and endangered.

vive on the arid land. But things are changing. The

Kenya is home to 95 percent of Grevy’s zebras,

rains are no longer predictable—or often, as plentiful.

but it wasn’t until after Low began studying this lim-

“The future of these peoples’ livelihoods and the sur-

ited-range species that they became her passion and

vival of the Grevy’s zebra are inextricably linked.”

focus. “It was only when I started working with them

Today, Low is teaching a low-tech method of

that I understood the magnitude of their decline. I

range management using the same cattle that once

didn’t want these beautiful animals to disappear from

competed with the zebras, but now help till and

my homeland,” she says. “I had to do something.”

enrich the soil and restore native grasses for

Low works as much with the people who share

wildlife. Cattle are kept in smaller but mobile graz-

the same land and resources of Grevy’s zebras as

ing areas to rid selected zones of invasive grasses.

she does with the zebras themselves. Where the

In the process, the cattle provide natural fertilizer

zebras range in northern Kenya, people are mainly

and a churning of the Earth by their hooves. Once

19

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