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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Service Grantees Shine in Mexico

Conservation in Mexico
People get instructions on a conservation project. Photo courtesy Samuel Levy

Wildlife don’t politely turn around when they reach a national border, so conservation must be a global responsibility. Recognizing that, we have, since 1989, provided more than 2,700 grants for international conservation totaling more than $100 million and raising more than $200 million in additional leveraged funds.

The Service's Mexico Program works with our neighbor to the south. We share hundreds of species with Mexico, and for a country that makes up just 1 percent of the Earth’s land mass, Mexico contains a staggering amount of wildlife: It’s home to one-tenth of all species known to science. We have provided 351 grants in Mexico totaling more than $11 million. Better yet, that original funding has brought in 26 million in leveraged dollars. 

As preparations continue for next week's annual meeting of the Canada/Mexico/US Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management, we celebrate three standout partners of our Mexico Program.

 Alfonso Aguirre

Dr. Aguirre during a recent rat eradication project on Banco Chinchorro in the Mexican Carribean. Photo by / J.A. Soriano/GECI Files

Dr. Alfonso Aguirre Muñoz recently received the 2014 Por Amor al Planeta (For the Love of the Planet) Award, the most prestigious conservation award in Latin America. Dr. Aguirre is the Director of Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas (GECI), an NGO based out of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico. He was recognized for his long and distinguished career, especially in the study and conservation of Mexican islands. To date, Dr. Aguirre and his team have been instrumental in the ecological restoration of 36 islands in Mexico, totaling more than 117,000 acres. These islands are critically important for global biodiversity and support numerous marine and terrestrial birds, plants, mammals and reptiles found nowhere else on earth. 

In 2013, we supported the work of Dr. Aguirre through the project “Island Biosecurity Workshop for Managers of Natural Protected Areas in Mexico.” The workshop helped staff at more than 25 island natural protected areas build skills to control and minimize the risk of invasive species invasion. 

Samuel Levy
Dr. Levy works in the Lacandon jungle of Mexico. Photo courtesy Samuel Levy

Dr. Samuel Levy, a researcher and professor of biodiversity conservation and ethnobotanical sciences at ECOSUR,  has been recognized the 2015 Full Circle Award of the Society for Ecological Restoration. The award recognizes the value of traditional knowledge of indigenous people. Dr. Levy has been working during the last 20 years with indigenous communities in the Lacandon jungle of Mexico (the largest rain forest of North America and primordial jaguar habitat) on restoration projects that incorporate the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, promote landscape-level connectivity, and reduce degradation, fragmentation and the presence of invasive species. 

In 2013, we supported his project that brought together 25 teachers and indigenous students from two high schools in the Nueva Palestina locality in Chiapas, where the state Lacandon jungle is located. They learned restoration and agroforestry techniques that combined the traditional agricultural knowledge of the Mayan communities and more scientific restoration techniques. 

Rodrigo Medellin

Dr Medellin has devoted his life to the study and conservation of bats and other mammals. Photo by Marina Rivero

Finally, we’d like to honor the "Batman of Mexico,"  Dr. Rodrigo Medellin of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His work, highlighted in last year’s BBC film Natural World: The Batman of Mexico, has  been key in helping the imperiled lesser long-nosed bat rebound. The animal’s dwindling population once threatened the agave crop, and thus tequila production, among other things. In 2012, Dr. Medellín was also the first-ever recipient of the Whitley Gold Award, which honors "an outstanding individual contribution to conservation." 

This longtime grantee has built the capacity of dozens of Mexican park rangers to properly manage and monitor biodiversity in and around natural protected areas.

We thank all of our grantees and partners who work with us to protect the natural resources of the world.

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