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Brazil, Australia, India and Beyond: Grasslands News from November 2012

Sandhill cranes fly over American Prairie Reserve in northeastern Montana.

 

In an effort to increase awareness of grasslands issues and encourage you to fall in love with our world’s prairies, American Prairie Reserve compiles a news roundup each month. These stories will introduce you to the organizations working to restore this endangered ecosystem, demonstrate the diversity of the plains and showcase the many different approaches to grassland conservation – from Montana to Mongolia.

Here’s the news from November. Happy reading! We’re already compiling news for the next post, so feel free to leave your suggestions and links in the comments below.

MAGAZINE: South American Cowboys Cook Up Bird-Friendly Beef
By Bruce Barcott, Audubon Magazine
Grasslands birds are savvy travelers, especially the upland sandpipers that travel from America’s plains to las pampas in South America. In an effort to benefit both birds and ranchers, a new initiative aims to create a brand of bird-friendly beef that will be sold at a premium. Learn more about the program and how it might conserve cowboy culture and Brazil’s remaining native prairie.

NEWS: A safe place for survival
By Jenny Brown, The Age
In Australia, the state government of Victoria plans to restore an endangered prairie ecosystem through the purchase of 15,000 hectares (approximately 37,000 acres) of land currently used for agriculture. The region’s volcanic plains are home to exceedingly rare species, like the striped legless lizard, and have a long history of human influence, dating back to early Aborigines.

NEWS: U.S. and Mexico team up to bring wild bison back
By Angela Kocherga, KVUE
While many Americans picture Yellowstone when thinking about bison, this wild herd is roaming south of the border in the grasslands of Northern Mexico. The herd was established in 2010 with 23 animals from South Dakota and roam on 46,000 acres of ranchland currently owned by The Nature Conservancy. Will the reintroduction of bison result in more sustainable grazing practices in this traditional cattle region?

MAGAZINE: Change. Crisis. And a Time to Think.
Shone Satheesh, Tehelka Magazine
Conservationist George Schaller is a man of many places and species – having worked to establish numerous nature areas around the world and study the rare animals that call them home.  In this interview, Schaller calls on his experiences in creating protected areas to explore topics such as wildlife parks that span political boundaries, why we protect some species and not others, and the future of conservation in India.

NEWS: Two Great Indian Bustards Sighted Near Umred
Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN
Despite nearing extinction, two Great Indian Bustards (GIBs), one male and one female, caused some commotion recently when they were spotted in central India. In addition to being camera-shy, the birds have lost most of their native grassland habitat and years go by without any sightings of breeding pairs. While GIBs have been known to use farmland as a habitat replacement, human disturbance can result in the birds abandoning their single egg laid each year. Our fingers are crossed that this pair is successful!

BLOG: The Right Metaphor for Prairie Restoration
Chris Helzer, The Prairie Ecologist
Instead of approaching prairie restoration like a tedious reconstruction of an old building, Helzer suggests that correct analogy is the rebuilding a city after a major disaster. Writing just after Hurricane Sandy, he compares the importance of bringing back core functions to an impacted area (power, transportation, communication) to the importance of evaluating restoration “success” by more than just acres and species content. In the same way that we don’t care if power lines are rebuilt exactly the same way, shouldn’t the definition of restoration success be the return of ecological processes, connectivity and resilience to fire, drought and disease?

RESEARCH: Ecological roles and conservation challenges of social, burrowing, herbivorous mammals in the world’s grasslands
Ana D. Davidson, James K. Detling, and James H. Brown, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
From North America’s prairie dogs to the Patagonian maras, the social, burrowing, herbivorous mammals of our grasslands are “ecosystem engineers.” Considering the growing human demand for food, scientists and land managers are looking for ways for the creatures to co-exist with human activity. Link to PDF download. (Our thanks to World Wildlife Fund’s Northern Great Plains office for recommending this article.)

PHOTOS: Winners of the 2012 Wildlife Photography of the Year Competition
Canadian Museum of Nature and Canadian Geographic
This year’s selections include stunning photos of some of our favorite prairie-dwellers. Scroll through the winners to see images of a Red Fox, Coyote, Snowy Owl, Bohemian Waxwing, and Black-Tailed Prairie Dog, among others. Looks like the prairie dog has been having a feast!


American Prairie Reserve (APR) is assembling a world class wildlife reserve in northern Montana, with the goal of one day creating a seamless 3.5 million acre grassland ecosystem. APR’s President Sean Gerrity is a National Geographic Fellow. Learn more about the Reserve, including progress to date and bison restoration efforts, on the Reserve’s website.