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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Pilar, Ñeembucú, Paraguay

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Pilar, Ñeembucú, Paraguay
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Registered: November 2021
City/Town/Province: Bozeman
Posts: 1
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Growing up in a rural country town, I witnessed the direct conflict between humankind and nature: the anger towards the wildlife consuming gardens, the rattlesnakes who would call people’s backyards their home, or the foxes who would wipe out a farmer’s entire chicken brood. I noticed how those living in urban landscapes are more often than not unaware of the direct effects of human-wildlife relations on coexistence. Through personally understanding the dynamic between wildlife and human communities, I was inspired to conduct an Apprentice Ecologist project on behalf of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project through a global sphere. Like many species, urbanization is one of the greatest issues wild non-human primates face. The increase of urbanization comes with increasing numbers of anthropogenic structures including electric cables and transformers, which many primates use to facilitate their travel across these urban landscapes. One species known to take advantage of electric cables for travel are howler monkeys. However, the use of these structures increases the risk of death by electrocution. In Pilar, a city located in southwestern Paraguay, at least 2 of 15 troops of black-and-gold howler monkeys known to travel by electric transmission lines are especially at risk of electrocution. In the months of September and October of 2017, three individuals of the Cotton Factory Group died by the same transformer which resulted in a 30% decrease in the size of the troop (R Smith, Para La Tierra, personal communication, January 2021).
In learning about this human-wildlife conflict issue, I traveled to Pilar, Paraguay during the summer of 2021 to conduct a socio-ecological study examining the dynamic between the urban howler monkeys and electric cables. While an ecological project, this project’s highest emphasis was on incorporating the community’s perceptions on the issue to uplift their voices into the proposed solutions. The project was formed and supported with a partnership with Para La Tierra, a Paraguayan non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to conserve the fragile habitats of Paraguay through research, community engagement, and environmental education. For three months, I interviewed over 105 volunteer participants in discussing with them this pertinent issue for the monkeys in their backyards. With the results of this project, I will use the combined results of this socio-ecological study to develop recommendations for Para La Tierra, the Ministerio del Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible (the Paraguayan Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development), the Municipalidad de Pilar (Municipality of Pilar), and the local electric company Administración Nacional de Electricidad (National Electricity Administration) or ANDE. During my three months living in Paraguay, I spent a lot of time communicating with the Pilar community over nature, the conflict, and hope for it. These sincere moments of empathic relation with each other despite the slight language barrier, further rooted my value in the importance of including the voices and perspectives of the people in which scientific work is affecting. In partnership with PLT, the results of this study will be disseminated to Paraguayan decisions makers to promote informed decisions and to support the priority in elevating positive human-wildlife coexistence. Very limited ecological research or conservation-type projects occur in Paraguay, so conducting research that ensures that the community is involved in the conservation efforts is a major step for the future of Paraguay’s ecosystems.
This experience provided me with the opportunity to be exposed to the differing global approaches and methods of conservation from the international members at the organization and through the Paraguayan community members. Within the field of conservation biology, researchers have spent more time on the traditional scientific and technical areas of research regarding species and ecosystems. For successful human and non-human primate coexistence, it is crucially important for conservation in these dynamic urban areas to work on a variety of interconnected disciplines, such as incorporating the research with the public, to progress in conservation. Inspiration from this Apprentice Ecologist project has solidified my passion to work for rural communities in the Philippines, both in partnership with a university and Philippine non-profit environmental organizations as a way to give back to my cultural heritage. My hope is for all conservation efforts to be community-based projects as research indicates that there is higher conservation success in this method. As I work in the intersection between people and wildlife, I will continuously involve the members in the communities not as study participants but as fellow conservationists and the next generations of conservation leaders. Conservation is both a social and environmental issue, something that the Nicodemus Wilderness Project emphasizes in its work and mission as we are all environmental stewards on our planet.
Date: December 19, 2021 Views: 2928 File size: 23.2kb, 1022.2kb : 3088 x 2320
Hours Volunteered: 60.5
Volunteers: 107
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 8-50+
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): N/a
Trash Removed/Recycled from Environment (kg): N/a
Native Trees Planted: N/a
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