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BE Wildlife Heroes Co-Author Jeff Folken


How diverse are the initiatives outlined in the book? The heroes are using a wide array of tools to conserve species. Most are working on-the-ground with more traditional scientific research and community outreach. But others are utilizing special skills to further their efforts: Kassie Siegel is a lawyer who has leveraged US laws to link polar bears to climate change; Merlin Tuttle's amazing photos of bats has changed people's perception of what once was a hated species; and Alison Jolly has written children's books about lemurs in order to change attitudes and save habitat in Madagascar. There are so many ways to helps species, and these people are really pulling out every possible method to make a difference.


What are some of the more innovative methods being utilized? Another of the Brazilian conservationists, Rogerio Cunha de Paula, realized through his research that local people were killing maned wolves because they were raiding chicken coops. The maned wolf is this beautiful canine species with red fur, long spindly legs with black sock markings, and over-sized ears that work like radar dishes for hearing prey in its native grassland habitat. But with local people now living so close, the wolves had taken to making easy meals of their chickens. Rogerio designed a wolf-proof chicken coop. It stopped the conflict and local people in the area stopped killing the wolves. And more chickens lived too as a result! It's a great win-win story.


Do you have plans for future editions or related media? My co-author and I have lamented that there were many amazing heroes that we were not able to include. Additionally there were some animals that we just love -- giraffes, hippos, cassowaries, hyenas, macaws, anteaters -- that weren't included either.


Since the book is an opportunity to not only introduce great work, but also highlight interesting critters that share our world, we hated that we couldn't feature them all. But this book took three long years to put together, so I think we're going to take a break now and enjoy watching people learn about the forty people and animals we were able to include. Maybe next year we'll start seriously talking about a sequel.


What defines a Wildlife Hero?


There were certain traits that all the heroes share. Sincerity and passion about their work was essential. Also a drive to do more than what has already been done, and really push the limit to save the species. They also have persistence -- wildlife conservation doesn't come easy and the victories are few and far between.


Also many of the heroes showed great dedication and selflessness -- one of the heroes, John Lucas, has been working over 25 years on okapi conservation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, risking his life in an area with heavy civil unrest, has never once seen his species in the wild because it's that rare and elusive. That kind of dedication is amazing.


Lastly, they all have showed success in their efforts -- they are truly already making a difference.


Can we embrace the spirit of a Wildlife Hero on a daily basis? Absolutely. The book includes an entire chapter on how to help with guidance on everything from supporting the forty different heroes in the book, to tips on making decisions in your day-to-day lives that lessen your footprint on the planet and allow more room for wildlife to share the world with us. Little contributions, changes in habitat, and daily efforts will add up to real gains in wildlife conservation. And that was the message we most wanted to get out there with the book -- we can save wildlife, and not only are these forty heroes doing it, but you can play a role too. And you'll have to if we want to be successful.


INSPIRATION │ KNOWLEDGE


Wildlife Heroes: 40 Leading Conservationists and the Animals They Are Committed to Saving is published by Running Press and can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound and local bookstores. The authors are donating 100% of their profits to the Heros featured in this book to help them continue their work to save species. For more information visit: www.wildlifeheroes.org


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