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Wildlife Conservation Society

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The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Feeding Conservation: An African Vision for Restoring Biodiversity

By Dale Lewis

Since 2003, the non-profit company Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) has been working in Zambia to help poor farmers improve their skills, grow surpluses, and receive above-market prices for their produce in exchange for meeting conservation targets. In managing the production and sale of these nutritious and chemical-free products, COMACO has committed itself to passing on above-market-price profits to farmers in the form of raw materials if they commit to conservation.

Exploring Indonesia’s Last of the Wild – the Forgotten Islands

By Stuart Campbell and Nils Krueck

The Forgotten Islands occupy a region in the southeastern Indonesian province of Maluku, a sparsely-populated area covering about 50,000 square kilometers that includes a vast expanse of coral reefs. As the region’s name suggests, not much is known about these reefs and their associated fisheries. One important reason for this is that for much of the year the seas are wild and unable to be accessed. Another reason is that Maluku’s Forgotten Islands support around 70,000 people who practice traditional customs that hark back to before the conversion of communities to Christianity. These customs include the guarding of marine resources against occasional visitors, such as nomadic fishers from central Indonesia

Latest Peel Watershed Decision a Victory for First Nations, Environmental Values and the Democratic Process

In a far reaching decision, the Yukon Supreme Court ruled on December 2nd that the Yukon government did not honour the land-use planning process when it unilaterally intervened in that process, rejecting the Final Recommended Plan of the legally mandated Peel Watershed Planning Commission (Commission) and replacing it with another plan. The Court has upheld the primacy of the constitutionally-binding land claims settlements, and the key role of First Nations as Parties in the Yukon’s government-to-government planning processes.

On Wildlife Conservation Day, Protect Climate Refuges to Help Corals

By Emily Darling

Protected areas are a hallmark strategy in marine conservation. Yet when they were first created, a growing lethal threat had not yet fully revealed itself. Warming, acidifying, and rising seas have devastated the world’s sensitive coral reefs, widely regarded as “ground zero” for climate change. El Niños and marine heat waves can bleach and destroy vast areas of healthy, biodiverse reefs even where they occur within “protected” parks. If the global impacts of climate change do not stop at park boundaries, what can scientists do? One strategy is to identify and protect climate refuges – habitats with more stable environments where species can survive warming temperatures.

Celebrating a Decade of Conservation in Chile’s Karukinka Landscape

By Bárbara Saavedra and Cristián Samper

On the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego in the Patagonia region of Chile, you’ll find one of the most stunning wild places in the hemisphere, complete with bountiful peat bogs, sub-Antarctic woodlands, windswept steppes, and snow-covered mountain ranges. Spanning 1,160 square miles, the Karukinka landscape is home to Patagonia’s unique wildlife, including the endangered culpeo fox, the Andean condor, guanacos (wild relatives of the llama), and the Magellanic woodpecker, the largest woodpecker in the Americas. It’s also a place rich in plant species like southern beech, Chilean fire bush, white dog orchid, and sundew.

Conservationists Playing with Fire

By Julie Kunen

For millennia, tropical civilizations cultivated their crops through a practice known as slash and burn agriculture. In this practice, vegetation is cut down and burned to clear land and improve the soil with the resulting organic matter and nutrients. Fire also kills or drives away pests and encourages the regeneration of grasses in natural pastures. When used over extensive areas in a cycle of planted and fallowed fields, the practice is sustainable. Today, many agricultural communities that lack access to machinery and chemical inputs depend upon fire for their livelihoods, using it to clear and maintain the fertility of agricultural lands and to delimit property boundaries. Yet, fire is also a great danger to humans and there are many risks associated with the use of fire as a land management tool.

A Massive New Marine Protected Area Network in Gabon

By John Robinson

The first day of the IUCN 2014 World Parks Congress marked a significant win for the oceans. The President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon announced the decision to create a new marine protected area network of ten marine parks covering more than 18,000 square miles (over 46,000 square kilometres). The network – encompassing about 23 percent of Gabon’s territorial waters and EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) – will safeguard whales, sea turtles, and other marine species inhabiting the nation’s coastal and offshore ecosystems. As the President noted in his speech, this puts Gabon “near the 20 to 30 percent that marine biologists tell us is needed to maintain biodiversity and restore depleted areas outside parks.” This is a massive increase from the 1 percent of marine area currently protected by Gabon.

50 Years of Conservation in India

By K. Ullas Karanth

The modern resurgent India, now the 10th largest economy in the world, is justly proud of its ancient culture and art. Yet we must not forget that India possesses an even more ancient treasure – its wild lands and wildlife. It is one of the most biodiversity-rich nations on earth.

Has Demand for Rhino Horn Truly Dropped in Vietnam?

By Scott I. Roberton

Recently, the Humane Society International (HSI) and the Vietnam CITES Management Authority (MA) announced that in the last year there has been a 77 percent decrease in the number of people who buy or use rhino horn in Hanoi. If accurate, this finding is an incredibly promising sign of success. Nevertheless, the announcement was met with skepticism by many conservationists, demanding greater scrutiny of the findings.

Wildlife Trafficking: Beyond Elephants and Ivory

By Susan Lieberman

In the wildlife trafficking policy debate in the U.S., the majority of attention to date has been on elephant ivory and rhino horn from Africa. However, elephants and rhinos are not the only species threatened by illegal international trade. Numerous other species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and others are also subject to trafficking, and they too need increased attention and political and financial support. In testimony I submitted to a meeting of the President’s Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking, I detailed some of the species whose illegal trade is under the radar, but still are suffering the effects of wildlife trafficking.

Humpback Whales Take a Bite of the New York Bight

Suddenly, a humpback whale bursts through this bait ball off the starboard side like a torpedo to its mark. The whale’s mouth is open wide and scooping in as many fish as it can hold, with the remnants spilling back into the sea. As it smacks its massive head down, a wave of very fishy whale’s breath blows across the bow of the boat.

Protecting African Elephants: What a Year Can Accomplish

By John F. Calvelli

Shortly after the initiation of CGI’s Partnership to Save Africa’s Elephants one year ago, WCS launched the 96 Elephants campaign, named for the estimated number of elephants killed illegally in Africa every day. The campaign has focused on securing effective U.S. moratorium laws, bolstering elephant protection with additional funding, and educating the public about the link between ivory consumption and the slaughter of elephants.

It’s the Wild West in East Africa

The Niassa National Reserve is as remote as it gets in Mozambique. The size of Tennessee or three times the size of the Serengeti‎, Niassa is the home of one of the last stands for the African savannah elephant. Estimates indicate there are 13,000 elephants left, down from 20,000 at their recent highest.

An Awareness of Vultures in Our Poisonous World

By Steve Zack

An appreciation of vultures is in the eye of the beholder. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition certainly appreciated them; Charles Darwin certainly did not. Clark carefully described in his journal of 1806 the “butifull buzzard of the Columbia” that we now know as the California Condor. Darwin, in 1832, recounted his experience with “these disgusting birds” (in this case, Turkey Vultures) whose bare heads “revel in putridity.” Beyond their beauty or putridity, however, our awareness must include the awful plight of vultures worldwide, due largely to the toxic world of poisons we foist upon them. The sixth annual International Vulture Awareness Day, which we celebrate September 6, gives us an opportunity focus precisely on that issue.

Wild at 50: The Wilderness Act Turns a Half-Century

By John Weaver

Recently, some neo-conservationists have argued that the Wilderness Act is facing a mid-life crisis, that somehow the notion of Wilderness is an anachronism in the ‘Anthropocene’ era of human domination of the planet. They argue that we should focus on domesticating landscapes to serve economic growth of the human juggernaut – rather than protecting remaining wild lands and preventing human-caused extinction of species. Other conservationists – myself included – disagree.