The EWCL Monarch team project goal was to support planting of milkweed and nectar-producing plants along the central flyway to help monarch butterflies survive their migration – and ultimately thrive as a species.
The migration route for the eastern population of the monarch butterfly ranges from the Texas border with Mexico northward to Minnesota. This imperiled, international species is dwindling, particularly due to loss of milkweed plants along their migration route. Milkweed serves as the sole food source for monarch caterpillars and is important for adults to feed on during their migration.
The first part of the project was to partner with the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) to recruit cities to sign their Mayors’ Monarch Pledge — an initiative where mayors commit to taking specific conservation actions in their community. These actions range from issuing a proclamation to changing mowing practices to creating a demonstration butterfly garden at city hall. The EWCL team committed to recruiting twelve municipalities in the Midwest, focusing on states critically important to the monarch migration but where NWF has limited resources, including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin.
The second part of the project aimed to increase coordination among the many groups and institutions already working on monarch conservation. In response to feedback gathered from stakeholders, we sought to create an interactive, web-based “PowerMap” resource with the support of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Monarch Joint Venture that could connect groups working toward a common goal. The PowerMap identifies stakeholders and key players in monarch habitat conservation along the central flyway. It would help municipalities and others identify who in their region is already working on monarch conservation, where to buy milkweed, what academic institutions in their region could give presentations to citizens, what local nonprofits have experience with monarch butterfly conservation, and many other applications.
With the help of SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, the team also committed to establishing a ‘EWCL Take Flight Fund’ to take its support of municipalities a step further – using the seed money literally as seed money for cities to jumpstart their milkweed planting efforts. These funds would go toward milkweed plant purchases and result in creation and restoration of milkweed habitat.
The Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders “Clouded Leopard” Team has created a wildlife conservation initiative called “Cameras 4 Conservation (C4C)”, which will increase the research of rare and endangered small felid species in Southeast Asia in order to identify the threats these species face and to support future conservation efforts. These cats are threatened by habitat loss and pressure from hunting, but due to their elusive nature little is known about their population size or behavior in the wild. Partnered with The Society for the Conservation of Endangered Carnivores and their International Ecological Study (S.P.E.C.I.E.S.), C4C is a collaborative effort that capitalizes on the abundance of functional trail cameras available in the United States of America (USA) and distributes them to biologists in Southeast Asia. By making trail cameras available to teams of emerging conservation professionals from this region looking to further wildlife conservation, C4C supports their education and enhances their capacity to understand and research rare cat species. Together C4C and S.P.E.C.I.E.S. have created a global network for small cat conservation efforts in Southeast Asia and have awarded 67 trail cameras to dedicated conservation biologists working with rare felid species in four countries.
The EWCL giraffe group worked with Giraffe Conservation Foundation to develop media tools to increase awareness highlighting recent declines in giraffe populations throughout their range. Specifically we prepared a media kit in anticipation of an uplisting announcement recategorizing giraffe from “not listed” to “vulnerable” by the IUCN. We enlisted the skills of illustrator Roger Roth to create two unique pieces that can be used for social media awareness campaigns. The first international trade assessment of giraffe was also conducted by analyzing international trade data and surveying experts throughout the world. This article is currently in preparation for publication in a peer reviewed journal.
The EWCL Climate Team (EWCL/CT) began working with WWF to advance the Climate Crowd, a new project established to explore and disseminate the valuable stories of climate change and responses to its impacts among the world’s disparate and often unheard communities. Five project objectives were established for the EWCL/CT: 1) train volunteers in Belize to collect data for Climate Crowd; 2) collect initial data with newly trained volunteers and submit this data via www.wwfclimatecrowd.org); 3 test and make recommendations to refine the survey instrument with volunteers in Belize; 4) provide advice for ongoing data collection through the University of Belize and other groups; and 5) document the training and data collection for training purposes and promotion of Climate Crowd. In this way, the EWCL/CT sought to fill critical knowledge gaps for additional program development, while also contributing to a global dataset on how communities are responding to climate change.