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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Mindful Conservation

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, February 5, 2015/Categories: wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment

A new documentary,  Racing Extinction , focused on the wholesale and brutal destruction of wildlife to supply the endangered species trade. Illicit supplies of elephant ivory, shark's fins, and rare medicinal plants feed a trade to satisfy commercial demand in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and elsewhere. The film exposed the multi-billion dollar illegal business but offered few examples of ways to prevent it. However, two other TV and radio programs illustrated insightful ways to control wildlife destruction by using technology and community involvement. They are worth sharing.

Earth, A New Wild  is a PBS mini-series narrated by  M. Sanjayan , an ecologist, speaker, writer, and Emmy nominated news contributor that premiered this week. The 5-part program focuses on the role of mindful conservation in improving human well-being, wildlife, and the environment in worldwide ecosystem segments including: plains, forests, oceans, and water. Presented in a "discovery" style of commentary, the show presents how humans and wildlife can coexist and provide mutual benefits by their coexistence. The results present a new way of thinking about conservation and sustainability. The program provides hopeful examples for what are often seen as hopeless abuses. Here's the trailer:



Racing Extinction uncovered the entire 'supply chain' for shark's fins and manta rays destined for restaurants and medicine shops in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and elsewhere in Asia. The trade begins in coral reefs inhabited by the ancient fish. The depiction of this trade was difficult to view but the film did offer one example where it had been halted by an Indonesia law declaring shark and manta fishing illegal and villagers became  guides for sustainable eco-tourism.

Like the TV series, NPR aired a radio report: Gotcha: Satellites Help Strip Seafood Pirates Of Their Booty  on the use of remote-sensing technology to prevent overfishing in remote marine areas in the South Pacific nation of Palau. Working with the Pew Trust's  Eyes on the Sea  project and Sky Truth, a satellite monitoring organization, the government of Palau was able to apprehend the illegal fisherman in their marine protected zone.The satellite tracking was crucial in apprehending the illegal fishermen even if the boat was loaded with shark's fins and dead mantas.

 
Satellite tracking of fishermen movements and illegal Taiwanese boat captured by Palau officials  (credit: NPR)

The TV and radio programmers showed that conservation goals can benefit people and wildlife alike by being mindful and thinking differently about seeking new solutions to sustainability and conservation issues.

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