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The Overview Effect How the View from Space Might Save Our World

The Overview Effect

Amboseli Panorama

Amboseli National Park from Observation Hill

When I was young, I imagined Africa as a far off land, with endless savannas and wilderness areas that rivaled outer space.  I  remember lying on the floor in front of the television watching Wild Kingdom,  our window on the world, as we traveled vicariously with Marlin Perkins to the far reaches of the world for exciting interactions with exotic animals in their natural habitats.

A lot has changed since those childhood days of packing a lunch with a friend and telling our parents we were setting out to seek  the source of  the creek that ran through the property surrounding our neighborhood.   This creek seemed endless to us as we walked and talked and used our imagination to pretend we were on safari looking for wildlife.

Our World is Getting Smaller

Now,  I realize how small this creek is and often times, I might even drive by  where we used to play  not giving the water rippling over the stones a second thought. And just as I thought Africa was a mysterious land of abundant space for all animals to live and thrive, we know  this is not the case. Africa’s wilderness is being squeezed as elephants, lions, rhino and wildebeest all compete with humans for habitat and resources.

Today, our world seems a lot smaller than it did when I was younger.  We can visit Africa and watch wildlife right from our homes via Africam and other online sources.  There are television programs on 24 hours, 7 days per week allowing us to see the  day to day life of people and animals on the other side of the globe.  And when you see Africa from the air, you can see the shrinking wild areas and the urban sprawl creeping out into the once wild and open spaces where earth’s animals once lived  in abundance and with minimal human conflict.

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Our Master of Zoology Graduation Celebration

Master of Zoology Graduation Celebration

Gracey and Miami Graduation Items

This tassel looks like it has my name on it.

It was with mixed emotions that we celebrated our graduation from the Master of Zoology program at Miami University.  Even though my mom and I spent many many hours in the office reading, thinking and writing, what we were learning was so super interesting  it seems the time just flew by.

Into the Field

We had the opportunity to travel to the  Baja peninsula to live in the dessert at Rancho San Gregorio and swim in the Sea of Cortez.  We visited elephants in Amboseli National Park in the Rift Valley Province of Kenya, dismantled snares with the African Conservation Center Game Scouts, learned to track lions, walked with baboons and lived with the Maasai in Olkiramatian.

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A Silent Killer: Remove Snares Save Cats

Snare Removal Saves Cats Lives.

Wild big cats are losing their lives to a silent killer. A plain wire snare made of barbed wire, tension cables or even bicycle brake wire, can cost less than one dollar to assemble, but they are silently killing big cats and other wildlife.  The victims of snares are quite often tigers, lions and leopards but it is not only the big cats that are being caught in the dreadful snares. Zebra, antelope, gazelle and all wildlife fall prey to the wire snares that are so widespread throughout Africa and Asia that entire wild populations have been wiped out, leaving humans and cats with nothing to eat.

Last summer I spent some time with the African Conservation Center Game Scouts near Amboseli National Park in  the Rift Valley Province of Kenya.  Here the ecosystem is mainly savannah grassland that spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border.

Vast area to look for snares

Vast area to search for snares

After reading about the ACC Scouts and trying to imagine what a typical day must be like for them, the experience of walking along side them  felt surreal.  Yet there I was boots on the ground ready to search.  After a brief introduction and a reminder to remain vigilant in the open bush  we began to survey the area.

Searching for snares with the African Conservation Center Scouts

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