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Director's Corner

Meet Service Director Dan Ashe.

A Week of Triumph and Tragedy

Fallen Rangers Virunga
Virunga rangers bury one of their own. Photo by Virunga.org

Last week marked an inspiring moment in conservation history, as the world’s attention focused on New York’s Times Square. There, surrounded by conservation partners from around the world and representatives of several governments, we crushed nearly all seized illegal ivory left in our possession after the first United States ivory crush in 2013.

If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to watch the video we’ve put together of this incredible event, which shined a global spotlight on the plight of Africa’s elephants – and the deep connection of the United States and its consumers to the illegal wildlife trade.

I couldn’t be prouder to have been part of this moment, but there is so much more we need to do.

Because the carnage continues.

Even as we took a giant step forward in New York, terrible news was filtering out of Africa. In Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a park ranger and two members of the Congolese armed forces were murdered by poachers just last week. A second ranger was injured in the incident. These three honorable men killed in the line of duty leave behind three wives and 12 children among them.

And in the DRC’s Virunga National Park, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla, two more rangers and 15 soldiers were killed last week in an ambush by two insurgent groups known to engage in poaching to support their activities. One, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), contains remaining members of Rwanda’s Hutu paramilitary forces who carried out the genocide of hundreds of thousands of their Tutsi countrymen in 1994.  


Going the Distance for Pollinators

This week (June 15 – 21) we are celebrating National Pollinator Week, and those amazing birds, bats, butterflies, beetles and more that mean so much to the food we eat and the land we live on. Cynthia Martinez, Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, talks about pollinator gardens.

When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moved its Headquarters to a new building last summer, pollinators benefited.

Employees helped plan a native pollinator garden in front of our new Headquarters building with beautiful flowering plants to nourish native pollinators such as butterflies, bees, beetles and hummingbirds. We were careful to select plants that flower at different times of the year to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season 

The pollinator garden at our HQ building. Photo by Rachel Sullivan/USFWS

Almost immediately, amid the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia, pollinators showed up seeking food and habitat. Some people even got to see a monarch butterfly stopping by the garden! 


Trip to Africa Steels Resolve

Photo by Dan Ashe/USFWS

I had the tremendous good fortune to travel to Gabon last month to meet with partners and witness some of the impressive on-the-ground conservation efforts there to protect a stunning diversity of wildlife. The men and women in Gabon “get” that extinct means extinct, gone forever. They are hard at work to keep the natural treasures of the country alive and well, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is privileged to help support their efforts.

Here is my journal from the trip. Be sure to check the Flickr album with some photos of the trip:


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