World Wildlife Conservation Day gives us an opportunity to reflect upon and bring awareness to issues that are threatening the world’s biodiversity. Every year offers a different theme, and 2021 focuses on “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet.”
Biodiversity is essential for the survival of all animals on Earth, and sustainability is the key to long-term conservation. All of the flora and fauna that surround us contribute to our lives on deep levels – ecologically, socially, economically, scientifically, and culturally.
Our sanctuary in Brazil is located in the Cerrado, the country’s second largest biome, or naturally occurring community of flora and fauna. It covers about 2 million square kilometers (772,000 square miles), including Mato Grasso, our home. It has diverse regions, like grasslands, savannas, and dry forests. While they don’t all live near the sanctuary, the cerrado is home to nearly 70 species of mammals, 830 species of birds, 120 species of reptiles, and 150 species of amphibians. There are also some 12,000 species of plantlife. Building the sanctuary here has allowed the land to return to a much more natural state, after having been used as a cattle farm for many years. The longer we are here, the more diverse wildlife we see. Visiting biologists have told us that there are plant species on the property that they’ve not seen in over a decade in this area.
Today is our opportunity to celebrate the flora and fauna that surround us all and to become aware of what we can do to protect our valuable world ecosystems. As part of our celebration, we would like to share a video of a red-footed tortoise (Jabuti-Piranga) that was returned to the wild, who we call Maurício. He visits occasionally and we sometimes offer him treats, like the apple he is eating here. But, you can see that once he is finished, he’s quickly off to his natural home, as it should be.