When we founded SavingSpecies, I knew that to save species from extinction we’d need to be very smart. No one was going to give us money otherwise. And, we scientists think we’re smart anyway. Our reward? Well, the nice way to put it is “poop.” Puma poop, to be exact. And, when I heard the news a few weeks ago — along with another item — it was one of the great moments of my career.
As one friend of SavingSpecies bluntly put, it: “How can you be so excited by puma s@#%?”
Let me explain. Very good people in conservation — friends and people I respect — say that their organisation “doesn’t buy land,” or that it “doesn’t plant trees.” SavingSpecies does both—indeed that’s all we do. They’re wrong, and here’s why.
We realised that if we bought the right land — carefully chosen to be in the areas where the greatest number of species are at risk of extinction — and restored very special places — we could have a huge impact.
Through your wonderful support, our first project bought a badly degraded cattle pasture east of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This is a badly fragmented landscape where the only remaining forests are in isolated patches amid degraded cattle pastures. We know from our science that species quickly go extinct in small patches. So, connecting up these patches by reforesting the intervening lands with native trees means that one can protect populations over much larger areas.
Connect, Protect, Restore. CPR for Earth, it’s what we do at SavingSpecies.
So, we raised most of the money to help the Brazilian Golden Lion Tamarin Association buy a key piece of land to reconnect a large isolated forest patch. Tamarins were imprisoned in that patch, unable to cross the open land.
The forest is now growing back — you can see it on Google Earth. But how long would it take for the species to come back? If this sounds like the Lorax, well you get the idea. I thought I might have to wait a while, maybe a decade.
The first piece of good news we got a few weeks ago was the tamarins have now escaped their “forest island” prison. They can cross the gap to go forth and multiply in the forests beyond, crossing the lands you helped us connect, protect, and restore.
The second piece was the puma poop. Found in the land being restored, it means that pumas can go into that once isolated forest. Pumas are the boss cat. They control smaller mammal predators — species like coatis. They look like a cuter version of a racoon with a long tail and they play havoc with nesting birds and small monkeys like the tamarins. With pumas back in town, order will be restored. And the tamarins and their friends will come back.
So, thank you on behalf of the tamarins, a dozen species of endangered birds, for the trees, the connection, and the puma poop. CPR has succeeded.