While many of us donate from our wallets to support conservation efforts, others like Ivan Carter live on the front lines of conservation. Ivan is the host of “Wildlife Heroes”, a new series on Outdoor Channel that is shining a light on conservation from a different perspective. The series shows what conservation looks like from the front lines, outlines the steps required to make it happen, explains why different initiatives are happening, highlights the cost of conservation and explains where the money comes from to fund these efforts. It’s a very thorough look at an important cause, from well-respected conservationist Ivan Carter. Tune in to The Revolution as Ivan calls in from South Africa with an in-depth look at the series and at important conservation initiatives.
Conservation on the front lines is hard work, Ivan says. He highlights several different conservation initiatives featured on the show and talks about them including an initiative he took part in to relocate lions. In order to reestablish a population that had been completely wiped out in another country by poachers, the team he was working with captured 24 lions, put them to sleep and loaded them on a plane to fly an extensive distance. Flying on a plane with sleeping lions is not for the faint hearted, he says, but the effort has been a huge win for conservation. Those lions now have 30-plus cubs today and because of the success of the initiative they believe there will be an excess of 200 lions in that area in the next 5 years.
In a very complicated conservation scenario, Ivan talks about saving the population of Chimpanzees in the Congo. In the Congo Basin in west Africa alone, a million tons of bush meat are poached every year. It’s an extraordinary amount of meat being poached but the driving force is poverty. The poaching epidemic is driven by the bushmeat trade which is ultimately driven by poverty, he says. You can’t hope to eliminate a problem like this without bigger picture solutions that address the root of the issue. It’s a very different thing to poach for food versus poaching an animal for its valuable tusk or horn. It’s for this reason that conservation projects in this region are very complicated. Ivan talks about supporting a primate sanctuary in the Congo where they are currently housing just under 100 chimpanzees. It is their goal to be able to release as many of these animals as they can back into the wild in the next few years.
Ivan talks about an episode of “Wildlife Heroes” where they focus on game capture and relocation which included giraffe and antelope. They were documenting what happens when people take sheep and cattle of the land, rewild that land, and repopulate it with native wildlife. With the giraffes, they relocated them to an ecosystem where they had been previously wiped out and hadn’t existed in more than 40 years. The show highlights what it takes to capture and transport big game animals like this. Along with relocation, conservation practices are put into place to help animals survive and thrive in their ecosystems. Unlike the United States and other countries, land owners in South Africa get to privately own the animals on their land. Bear in mind that there are many different countries in Africa, so many of them have different policies, Ivan says. However, the countries where there is private ownership of wildlife are the countries where wildlife numbers are expanding. For this reason individuals can create a sustainable and profitable business model using their land and the resources on it, and they are that much more inclined to invest in and protect what they have. Millions and millions of acres in southern Africa have been taken back from agriculture and turned back to wildlife and in his opinion, this has been a great win for conservation. Other countries that do not allow private ownership of wildlife, in a lot of cases, are countries that are experiencing the heaviest poaching rates and having the hardest time maintaining equilibrium in the environment, he says.
Not only does “Wildlife Heroes” focus on conservation in Africa, but Ivan also brings it back to North America and dives into some conservation efforts here in the United States. One of the things they really wanted to focus on with the series, Ivan says, were species and ecosystems in both North America and Africa whose livelihood depends on the hunting model. He’ll talk about the front lines work being done in Oklahoma and how he crawled into a black bear den with a sow and cubs to help gather information. He’ll discuss going to the Henry Mountains in Utah to collar bison. He’ll talk about the translocation of 30 sheep in Nevada to a mountain range that hasn’t had sheep on it in 80 years. It is because of hunter dollars that these types of conservation projects can happen. Hunting tags and licenses help fund the science behind conservation and the projects needed to keep pushing it forward. It’s a great example of what hunters do for hardcore conservation on the front lines, he says.
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