Conservation Nation works directly with Smithsonian scientists and researchers to impact global wildlife conservation efforts.
With your fundraising donations, Conservation Nation has supported Smithsonian conservation projects around the world. While our work to erase extinction is far from over, it is important to look back and note the amazing work we’ve achieved together.
In just three decades, the African penguin population has declined more than 50 percent. Now endangered, African penguin populations continue to decline, due to destruction of breeding grounds for the guano harvest, and “egging”—humans collecting newly-laid eggs to sell at markets. These factors, paired with oil spills and overfishing, have severely decimated this already fragile population. In partnership with the SAFE program, Smithsonian scientists are addressing the African penguin crisis by building nest boxes where penguins can safely lay their eggs, and, once hatched, the nest box will provide a stable environment for growing chicks. With funding from Conservation Nation, we can help scientists reach their goal of installing 2,600 nest boxes on African penguin nesting islands, and ensure penguins continue to swim wild in the waters of southern Africa.
Rhinos are among the most universally recognized species in the world, but they are also one of the most endangered with only two rhino species remaining in Africa. With so few individuals left, the survival of each rhino is critically important. But we are losing them at an alarming rate due not only to poaching, but to insufficient medical care. With funds raised this year, we can support the Smithsonian’s Global Health Program in working with local partners on the ground in Kenya to standardize, improve, and provide advanced veterinary care for ill, injured, and orphaned rhinos.
The Andean flamingo—listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species—is native to the Andes Mountains, and is among the rarest flamingo species on the planet. Andean Flamingos rely heavily on highland lakes to forage and breed, but increasingly these lakes are becoming polluted by mining activities and drying up due to climate change, making them unusable for flamingos and increasing the decline of the already vulnerable population. Through Conservation Nation funding, scientists can track Andean flamingos using satellite transmitters, identify which lakes are most often used by the flamingos, and then develop an effective conservation plan for this species.
In addition to owning the title of fastest land animal in the world, cheetahs are also the most endangered African cat species, with roughly 6,700 left in the wild. Inbreeding and fragmented populations spread throughout Africa have nearly driven this majestic species to extinction. To strengthen genetic diversity, scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute are collaborating with researchers in Namibia to analyze wild cheetah scat (poop). Using the information from individual cheetah scat samples, scientists can determine the health and stability of the wild cheetah population, which will then help scientists form a conservation plan to ensure the cheetah’s ultimate survival.
Ensuring the health of endangered Asian elephants in Thailand is critical to creating a healthy population—in human care and in the wild—but a desperate area of focus is detecting and evaluating joint and foot inflammation, an illness that is debilitating and can potentially lead to death. Smithsonian scientists have identified tremendous potential for thermography (thermal imaging and video) as a noninvasive way to detect such issues in elephants. Funds from Conservation Nation will provide scientists with thermal infrared imaging cameras to use in Thailand for a more proactive approach to elephant healthcare that includes diagnosing and treating issues before they become debilitating.
You would think the world’s tallest land mammal would be easy to study, but very little is known about Kenya’s reticulated giraffe population. Scientists believe that habitat loss and increased human disturbance have sent the numbers of wild reticulated giraffes into sharp decline, but they do not have the data to prove it. To better study wild giraffes, scientists designed a large-scale, innovative, solar-based GPS tracking system. This system, partially funded by Conservation Nation, is helping gain critical information regarding giraffe behavior in the face of human activity, migration, habitat destruction, and ecology challenges.
Central America’s Harlequin frog population was pushed to the brink of extinction by the amphibian chytrid fungus disease. There is hope after the “soft release” of 400 frogs back into the wild, but the work to restore this vulnerable population isn’t done. With the help of Conservation Nation funds, scientists working with the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project continue to conduct experimental releases of captive-bred Harlequin frogs in Panama. Even more exciting is that a subset of these frogs are wearing radio trackers, so that scientists can estimate migration, habitat, and non-disease-related death. This data is supporting the long-term effort to fully restore Harlequin frog populations.
Since 1985 the scimitar-horned oryx has been extinct in the wild. In 2016, 23 oryx grazed on their native soil in the African country of Chad for the first time in 30 years because of Smithsonian science. Since the reintroduction, the oryx have had many successes—babies are even being born! But, our work is far from finished. To ensure that oryx thrive in the wild, scientists will need to closely monitor their habitat conditions and social dynamics. With monetary support from Conservation Nation, scientists purchased and installed GPS cameras on the previously placed oryx tracking collars to monitor the herd without human intrusion.
The red siskin is one of Venezuela’s most iconic birds, but the illegal pet trade and habitat loss have nearly guaranteed its extinction. Several ways that scientists are working to save this endangered bird are by restoring sustainable populations through genetic monitoring, mitigating wildlife tracking, and protecting habitats. Conservation Nation helped by funding the critical work Smithsonian scientists, and the Red Siskin Initiative—an international partnership of public and private institutions, communities, and people working to help understand, protect, and restore sustainable populations of this highly endangered and iconic bird in Venezuela and Guyana.
Fewer than 1,850 wild Asian elephants remain in Myanmar. Habitat loss, conflicts with farmers, illegal capture, and poaching have caused Asian elephant populations to fall by more than 70 percent—a number that could dramatically increase throughout the next decade. We refused to sit idly by and let this beautiful creature disappear. With our Nation behind us, Conservation Nation provided funding to Dr. Peter Leimgruber, head of the Conservation Ecology Center at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, to purchase GIS tracking collars that use satellites to monitor these elephants. The collars allow Dr. Leimgruber and his team to establish a real-time tracking system that helps mitigate human-elephant conflict, poaching, and illegal capture. With your help, we are playing a key role in ending the threat of extinction for Asian elephants.
Andean bears are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, with a likely decline of more than 30 percent within the next 30 years. Threatened by habitat destruction, human conflict, and poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, it is estimated that around 200 Andean bears are killed by humans each year. Smithsonian scientists, including Dr. Don Neiffer, Chief Veterinarian at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, are working tirelessly to save these bears. Along with our supporters, we’re right beside them. With Conservation Nation’s funding, Dr. Neiffer and his team traveled to remote Peru to help foreign colleagues manage the INKATERRA Machu Picchu Spectacled Bear Project, an effort designed to recover bears that have been affected by human impact and to reintroduce them to their natural habitat. With our Nation of supporters, we are committed to helping the Andean bear thrive in the wild.
There are 35 species of canids, including the maned wolf, dhole, African painted dog, and the critically endangered red wolf. Smithsonian scientists have been working to preserve these species using a comprehensive approach which includes educational outreach and monitoring in home ranges, studying the biology, genetics, and behavior in individuals housed in zoos, and developing reproductive technologies to support ‘insurance’ populations, as a hedge against extinction and a source of animals for reintroduction. Recently, Smithsonian scientists produced the first litter of puppies made by in vitro fertilization, and with support from Conservation Nation, will work to translate this and other accomplishments to endangered canid conservation globally.