A symposium on crane conservation in Eastern Asia, moderated by the International Crane Foundation, explored the ways in which successful community engagement has been critical to the success of crane conservation efforts in the region.
Through efforts such as micro-lending programs, educational efforts in schools and community enterprise programs, crane conservation efforts in the region have galvanized communities around conservation of these beautiful birds – efforts that serve as a gateway to build stronger alliances in communities and broaden conservation efforts.
On a less positive note, the freshwater conservation section featured a presentation detailing the decline of the Yangtze River Dolphin, or Baiji. The panel, focused on the ultimate disappearance of the Baiji – an enormous freshwater dolphin endemic to the Yangtze River in China – in recent decades served as an autopsy of an extinction. The presenters conducted a thorough survey of the river and its fishermen to determine when and where the last populations of Baiji had been found and discovered as rapid a decline in awareness of the animal – especially among younger fishermen – as in the dolphin’s numbers. The presenters concluded that this would likely have been an avoidable extinction had efforts been coordinated only a few short years ago.
Elizabeth Baer is the Manager of Conservation Tools for Business at Conservation International
The Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) is an international professional organization dedicated to advancing the science and practice of conserving the Earth’s biological diversity. The 23rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology takes place from 11-17 July, 2009 in Beijing, China.