Join the Nation today and help support our current conservation priorities: Funding nest boxes for African penguins; providing critical healthcare to the last two rhino species in Africa; tracking vulnerable Andean flamingos in South America; monitoring the declining wild cheetah population of Namibia; and using thermal imaging to monitor joint health in endangered Asian elephants in Thailand.
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.
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