Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Big news for big cats

   Tonight Bryan and I joined Joni and the gang (Alan, Sarah, Susan and Mark) for the first in the series of National Geographic Live presentations. We all subscribed together as a birthday present for Joni, but really it's a present for us all—and this was one of the best. Photographer Steve Winter was highly entertaining. But even better, he did a great job of explaining the immense leaps in the conservation that he has helped to enact.
   Through his work in the field, he and his colleagues have helped to educate locals about the endangered tigers, jaguars, and snow leopards in their environments. Many of these cats are killed because they take livestock, their livelihood. He teaches locals that the cats are much more valuable than dead-- and helps them become to ecotourism leaders. Or learns that the majority of their animals are actually falling from disease, not predation: trading life-saving vaccinations and vet care in exchange for leaving the cats alone.
   Steve is a smart and charismatic man in addition to an incredible photographer. But through his work he has realized so much more than that: saving lives of individual cats, and perhaps entire species. Proof that art CAN change the world, and does, every day.
   When you realize how much we lose from our planet each day and the crisis we are in, it's easy to become a pessimist. But Steve said, "Where there's life, there's hope." Loved hearing that, and loved hearing from Steve. Grateful there are people like him out there!