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cheetah

 

Wildlife Heroes

 

It seems that every time I pick up a magazine, or visit the Web, another article appears about a species that has gone extinct.  We are losing our precious wildlife all over the globe at an alarming rate...and very soon, sooner than we think, we will have only pictures and memories of the incredible wildlife that once roamed our free spaces on earth.

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Crocodile Hunter

 

Steve Irwin – “The Crocodile Hunter” 

 

Steve Irwin's death in September 2006 was a severe blow to the world of wildlife conservation and to the millions of fans around the world who loved him.  I adored Steve Irwin and his never-ending passion for saving the wildlife on this planet.  Every penny Steve and Terri Irwin earned from their TV series, The Crocodile Hunter, as well as from the Australia Zoo, was put right back into wildlife conservation.  Today, Terri and Bindi Irwin continue Steve’s legacy.  Without Steve, however, it is a tremendous challenge.  

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chimps

 

Dr. Jane Goodall

 

I first met Jane Goodall years ago at a fundraiser in Laguna Beach, California.  I had always admired her work with chimpanzees, and had read all of her books, but listening to her speak, about her beloved Africa and the chimpanzees she studied, made me want to learn more.  I wrote to Dr. Goodall, asking how I could help, and received a handwritten letter back from her, telling me how I could.  That is Jane’s way.  She is a tireless and driven person who continues to do everything she can to save wildlife.  

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A few of my other favorite heroes and organizations are: 

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Dr. Daphne Sheldrick is an author, conservationist and expert in animal husbandry, especially the raising and reintegrating of orphaned elephants into the wild.  She is a recognized international authority on the rearing of wild creatures and is the first person to have perfected the milk formula, and necessary husbandry, for both infant milk dependent elephants and rhinos.  To help Daphne continue her work with orphaned elephants, please go to her website, www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.  When in Nairobi, Kenya, visit the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage where you will have the opportunity of not only seeing the baby orphaned elephants up close but of witnessing the incredible work that Daphne does.

The Orangutan Conservancy

Dedicated to the conservation of orangutans and their rainforest home.  No Forests – No Animals.  Today it is estimated that in the world’s rainforests alone, 27,000 species are extinguished every year – 74 species a day.  A fact that none of us want to believe, but must.  Orangutans are found only in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra.  The population of wild orangutans has declined by more than half in the last 20 years, and approximately 80% of the natural habitat has been lost in the last half century.   

The Orangutan Conservancy is dedicated to the conservation of orangutans and their habitat through preserving the remaining orangutan populations and by promoting the changes that are needed to preserve their natural habitat.  By protecting orangutans in their natural environment, most other native species, including plants and insects will also survive.  To help, please go to www.orangutan.net.

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Dian Fossey in 1978 to preserve and protect the world’s last mountain gorillas through anti-poaching, regular monitoring, research, education, and support of local communities.  Originally named the “Digit Fund” in memory of Dr. Fossey’s favorite gorilla, who was murdered by poachers in 1977, the Fund was renamed in 1992 to underscore its commitment to carry on the gorilla protection and research programs established by Dr. Fossey.   

Today, the situation for the mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Virunga National Park) remains critical, because of the political insecurity in that region which has not allowed the Congo’s park rangers to resume their work patrolling and protecting the forest where the gorillas live.  The DFGF is part of a crisis task force that stands ready to continue providing support for the park rangers, special guards, the medical clinic, health programs, and other needs in the region, as soon as the situation improves.  In Rwanda, DFGF’s regular patrols of the mountain gorillas continue uninterrupted from the Karisoke Research Center.   Please contact www.gorillafund.org if you would like to help.


I truly believe that if people around the world see wildlife up close, they will come to appreciate how special all of the wild creatures are on this earth.  If you have the opportunity to visit Africa, as I hope you will, you will understand why so many “heroes” are attempting to save wildlife each and every day.  Maybe you would like to be a “hero” too. 

-- Denise Bonnell

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