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1Frame4Nature | Gabby Salazar

What YOU Can Do: 

Read “Wild Hope: On the Front Lines of Conservation Success” by Andrew Balmford and get inspired to find your starfish! What can you do in your backyard to make a difference? Start composting, use native plants in your garden, or help clean-up your local beach or nature reserve.

–1Frame4Nature is a collection of images and stories from around the globe of your personal connection to nature. However small, when combined with the actions of others, your individual actions can impact real and tangible outcomes for the preservation of our planet. Submit your story now!

A Mauritian Wildlife Foundaiton staff member holds the fruits of Doricera trilocularis in his hands in an endemic plant nursery in Rodrigues. Seed banking is a big part of plant conseravation and MWF staff are working hard to cultivate endangered species from both Rodrigues island and mainland Mauritius. Mauritius has over 50 species of critically endangered plants with less than 10 individuals left in the wild.
A Mauritian Wildlife Foundaiton staff member holds the fruits of Doricera trilocularis in his hands in an endemic plant nursery in Rodrigues. Seed banking is a big part of plant conservation, and MWF staff are working hard to cultivate endangered species from both Rodrigues Island and mainland Mauritius. Mauritius has over 50 species of critically endangered plants with less than 10 individuals left in the wild.

iLCP Emerging League Photographer Gabby Salazar‘s 1Frame4Nature: Why I am a (Conservation) Optimist 

After working as a photographer for over five years, I recently returned to school to study Conservation Science as a postgraduate student. It has been a challenge to exchange my camera for books and my mornings in the field for mornings in a lecture hall. But, mostly, it has been difficult to learn about the many challenges facing the natural world– from the mass extinction of frogs to the growing illegal wildlife trade. Thankfully, my professors have also focused on exposing me to solutions and to innovative new approaches to conservation. So, as I finish my degree this summer, I remain optimistic about the future– a future where I believe that both humans and nature can and will thrive.

A captive echo parakeet in the aviaries of Black River run by the National Parks and Conservation Service. This species has been downlisted by the IUCN thanks to captive breeding efforts that have helped the species recover in the wild from 10 individuals to over 400 mature individuals.
A captive echo parakeet in the aviaries of Black River run by the National Parks and Conservation Service. This species has been downlisted by the IUCN thanks to captive breeding efforts that have helped the species recover in the wild from 10 individuals to over 400 mature individuals.

As a conservation photographer, I have had the privilege of witnessing hope firsthand. I have walked beside a 91-year-old Mauritian botanist who bikes to a local nature reserve every morning to help restore the native forest. I have listened as the owner of a rescue center gets up in the middle of the night to care for a sick howler monkey in Peru. Last summer, I watched an Alaskan brown bear fishing in the wilderness, in the company of a hunter turned ecotourism operator. Like so many people around the world, he realized that wildlife can be more valuable alive than dead. It is individuals like these that give me hope. They are the ones turning the tide in their communities, in their local parks, and even in their backyards.

A man plays looks after Pepe the red howler monkey at Amazon Shelter, an animal rehabilitation center along Tambopata Road in Peru that rescues mistreated animals and abandoned exotic pets. Amazon Shelter is one of the projects supported by Interoceanica SUR (iSUR), an organization that seeks to promote conservation efforts around the new Interoceanic Highway that streteches across Peru and Brazil.
A man looks after Pepe the red howler monkey at Amazon Shelter, an animal rehabilitation center along Tambopata Road in Peru that rescues mistreated animals and abandoned exotic pets. Amazon Shelter is one of the projects supported by Interoceanica SUR (iSUR), an organization that seeks to promote conservation efforts around the new Interoceanic Highway that stretches across Peru and Brazil.

In 2015, I spent six months on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, home to one of the greatest examples of conservation success in the world. For the last forty years, conservationists in Mauritius have been using captive breeding techniques and habitat restoration to rescue many critically endangered species, from the Echo Parakeet to the Telfair’s skink to the Café Marron tree. Remarkably, Mauritius has saved six critically endangered bird species from extinction, including the Mauritius kestrel, which was once down to four individuals in the wild (and only one breeding pair!). The story of Mauritius is proof that dedicated individuals, working locally, can make an impact.

People in the village of Pilco Grande, a Quechua speaking native community in Southeastern Peru that has a reforestation program to bring back the native forest near their community.
People in the village of Pilco Grande, a Quechua speaking native community in Southeastern Peru that has a reforestation program to bring back the native forest near their community.

I am not the only conservation optimist. Earth Optimism is a growing international movement to celebrate success rather than to focus on failure. In April of this year, Optimism events will be taking place around the world, from London to Washington DC to Panama City (find your event here). Together, we’ll be crafting a new narrative for conservation–one that is based on hope and that shifts our focus from problems to solutions.

An Aldabra giant tortoise gets a checkup on Round Island. The tortoises are weighed and measured every three months by researchers. They are identified by numbers written on their backs. The tortoises have been introduced to Round Island as an ecological replacement for the extinct Mauritian tortoises and to help protect the Aldabra tortoise from extinction.
An Aldabra giant tortoise gets a checkup on Round Island. The tortoises are weighed and measured every three months by researchers. They are identified by numbers written on their backs. The tortoises have been introduced to Round Island as an ecological replacement for the extinct Mauritian tortoises and to help protect the Aldabra tortoise from extinction.

When I think about this new movement, an old fable comes to mind. A woman is walking down a beach that is covered in thousands of stranded starfish. In the distance, she notices a man who is tossing the starfish back out to sea, one by one. After watching him from afar, she approaches him and asks what he is doing and how could he possibly make a difference when thousands of starfish will inevitably die. He leans down, tosses an additional starfish into the sea, and says, “It made a difference to that one.”

A Brazil nut farmer collecting Brazil nuts using a 'pallana' in his famiy's Brazil Nut concession near Mavila, Peru. The 2000 hecatare concession provides income for his family and helps protect tropical forests because Brazil nuts require primary forest to grow.
A Brazil nut farmer collecting Brazil nuts using a ‘pallana’ in his famiy’s Brazil Nut concession near Mavila, Peru. The 2000 hecatare concession provides income for his family and helps protect tropical forests because Brazil nuts require primary forest to grow.

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Comments

  1. Lynda Richardson
    Virginia
    April 20, 10:14 am

    Great article and images Gabby! We are all so proud of you! Thank you for making a positive difference in this world and for inspiring others with that same positive enthusiasm!