Smithsonian Sidedoor? …. “Gulp” …. Board of Regents? …. “oh boy”


Ever hear of sidedoor?  Well, if not, it’s a Smithsonian podcast that airs regularly with dynamic content to bring interesting stories to the general public about various Smithsonian units.  Why the “gulp”?  Well, on Monday, I get the opportunity to speak with Tony Cohn and the sidedoor team about the scimitar-horned oryx reintroduction.  It’s a live event that will be taped at the Oprah Winfrey Theater in the National Museum of African American History, as part of the Smithsonian Board of Regents annual strategic meeting.

The Board of Regents is the governing body of the Smithsonian.  It consists of the Chief Justice of the United States, the Vice Presented of the United States, three members of the United States Congress, three members of the United States House of Representatives, and nine prominent citizens.  If you want the full breakdown with bios of this all-star cast, check out this link.  That’s why there’s a second “gulp” …  or rather, an “oh boy”.

Anyway, Monday’s the big day. to highlight the scimitar-horned oryx project and all the people that have worked together to reintroduce it.  The theater is expected to be full, but the taped podcast will be broadcast in the next few weeks.  Tune-in if you’re interested.  There will be a variety of other speakers too, including Drs. Melissa Songer and Suzan Murray.  Melissa will be on stage with me to highlight and educate the board on the recent poaching crisis in Myanmar.

What do you wear to one of these things?  Geesh.


Fences a major concern for terrestrial animal migrations

A terrible way to die.  The hoof of a white-bearded wildebeest, caught in the top rung of a fenceline. Photo credit: G. Hopcraft.

I’ve continued to monitor the trends across the landscapes I studied during my graduate research.  Across the Maasai Mara, fencing has always been a major concern.  But, to see how quickly fencing has expanded across the region is startling.  More and more animals are being recorded as being caught in fences by local partners, tour operators, and tourists themselves.  Just this past week, one of my collaborators took this photograph in the Mara of a dead wildebeest that got caught in a fence.  Others are being reported as starving to death, simply because they have no where to go.

We’re currently working with partners to evaluate the extent of the fence expansion by using the available satellite record.  We then will compare how animals are responding to these barriers by analyzing the GPS data we’ve been collecting.  In doing so, we hope to identify important corridors so that we can work with the local people and keep important areas open to facilitate animal movement.