Well, the trip has come to a close, and we are preparing to re-emerge back in the states. Jeff's a little thinner from the lack of vegetarian food options, we're both a lot darker from the baking sun, and we each have a much better understanding of what is happening, and what needs to happen, in order to preserve the incredible ecosystems of the Pantanal and the Cerrado.
It was amazing to see how strategically the conservation efforts in this region are being implemented, and what a wide array of partners play a role – NGOs, private businesses, government, academia and private landowners are all involved in this massive conservation effort.
And the use of science to create the most efficient conservation plans – while working closely with local communities – is very impressive as well. Every individual effort seems to be contributing to the larger goal of building a conservation corridor to protect the region's abundance of wildlife and natural beauty.
After seeing all this, we want to do more to help. Here are a few ideas that we have come up with off the top of our heads:
- Never buy wild caught animals as pets. Not only do they make poor – and sometimes dangerous – pets, but the trade is often illegal, resulting in a loss to natural populations that are being protected for a reason.
- Eco-tourism or "green" vacations do much to support conservation in both foreign countries and our own. Learn more about where you travel, support ecotourism operations, and plan your adventures so they have the lightest impact possible on the surroundings.
- Don't feed or interact with wildlife in their natural environment – it may seem harmless, but puts the animals and you in harm's way. It often changes a wild animals' behavior after a very few number of exposures, usually to the long-term detriment of that animal.
- Be an educated consumer by not buying products such as feather art, tortoise shell jewelry, or some traditional Asian medicines, that are made from parts of endangered or wild caught animals.
- If you eat beef, ask for certified eco-beef, raised on native grasses in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Whether you are gardening in your backyard or traveling abroad make sure to prevent the introduction of exotic species. Exotic species often out compete native plants and animals for resources and can cause overall harm to ecosystems.
- Support conservation organizations and efforts in your own region. The first step toward a global conscious begins in our own backyard.
Get more tips about how you can live green.
Here are some links to provide further information about the places we traveled and the things we learned (some of the websites are in Portuguese, so you might need a translator).
Fazenda Rio Negro
Caiman Ecological Refuge
You can follow more of Julie Scardina's adventures in Julie's Journal at SeaWorld.org
Be sure to check back to find out Conservation International's next expedition and where it will be!
Best wishes, and thanks for joining us on this adventure.
-Jeff and Julie
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