What do the Vaquita Porpoise, Jaguar and Elephant Have in Common?

What do the Vaquita porpoise, jaguar and elephant have in common?

All of these animals are in immediate danger of extinction due human causes of over fishing, loss of habitat from deforestation and farming, interaction with human fishermen and farmers, and worst of all, pouching and climate change.

three animals

Last Sunday, I witnessed three presentations and short documentary films describing the plight of these animals put on by the Sausalito Film Festival and various presenters. The ballroom at the Cavallo Point Lodge, also a co-sponsor of the event, was jammed with about 250 people (my estimation) and every presenter was greeted by a wonderful applause.

Souls of the Vermilion Sea is about the struggle to save the imperiled Vaquita porpoise – one of the worlds most endangered marine mammals found only in the northern waters of the Gulf of California. The numbers of these small porpoises are decreasing at an alarming rate; only 60 are alive today. This film was produced by my good friends, John and Ramona Mays and directed by Matthew Podolsky, president of Wild Lens. The discussion afterwards, featuring Dr. Frances Gulland – Senior Scientist at The Marine Mammal Center, revealed that the habitat of the Vaquita porpoise has shrunk considerably and consists of only the northern most section of the See of Cortez (Gulf of California) around San Felipe, Mexico.

Please watch the trailer for the movie.

Path of the Jaguar is a stunning portrait of these big cats and how their terrain in the Mamoni Valley Preserve in Panama is being threatened (and thus their survival) by forest fragmentation. Milton Yacelga, co-founder and president of Kaminando gave and introductory presentation before the movie to pinpoint the tragic implications of rainforest fragmentation on the migration and habitat of the jaguars which roam from Mexico to South America through Panama. Without this corridor, the jaguars will loose their mating and hunting habitat and the species who depend on them will also become endangered. After the movie, Kimberly Craighead, co-founder and vice president of Kaminando talked about her Ph. D. thesis on counting the number of jaguars in a specific range in the Mamoni Valley Preserve.

Photo courtesy of Kaminando

Big Life in Action showcases efforts in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro region of East Africa to train local Maasai as rangers to prevent elephant, lion and rhino poaching, protecting an area of over 2 million acres. After the movie, Amy Baird, associate director of Big Life Foundation, elaborated on the plight of the elephants and how they often roam out of the national parks, encountering farms and people along their migration paths. One of the projects of the Big Life Foundation is to fence of the farm areas to avoid unnecessary killings of farm animals and the elephants.

Elephants Walking Through Grass, Amboseli 2008. Leading Matriarch Killed By Poachers, 2009

Elephants Walking Through Grass, Amboseli 2008. Leading Matriarch Killed By Poachers, 2009

Amy mentioned that the founders of Big Life turned their anger into action rather than passivity. After the event, I spoke with her about the main take away that I had from the Earth Holder Retreat that I participated in and spoke at the end of April. The insight of interbeing from climate activism is that there is no “us” and no “them.” There are no “rangers” and no “poachers.” We are all life forms. We came from the stardust that made this solar system and we are life, itself. There is no separation. Therefore, we need to act from wisdom and compassion, rather than anger, hatred, and ignorance.

Everyone in the audience was touched by the films and the presentations. I doubt if there was a dry eye in the attendance.

I hope you will join me in donating to the organizations that participated in these thoughtful presentations and films:

Once you have donated, send a copy of your receipt to me and I will send you a link to my best selling ebook, Cosmology and Buddhist Thought: A Conversation with Neil deGrasse Tyson. You can message me through Facebook or email me through the contact link, above.

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