On the road for butterflies

We recently became acquainted with the Butterflies of the World Foundation, a small but hard-working non-profit dedicated to improving public awareness of butterflies, and conservation of their habitats—vital to these lovely insects, many of which also (like the birds above) migrate vast distances. Founder and chief butterfly fanatic Bryan Reynolds has used a Jeep Liberty to travel through 15 states and provinces thus far in North America, recording the lives of butterflies through beautiful photography, sharing his images in public venues, and publishing in national and international magazines.

Download their impressive accomplishments and mission statement here.

A perfect match for ConserVentures with our theme of exploration and conservation, the organization is seeking help properly outfitting its Jeep Liberty for extended overland travel. Here's their wish list (download a PDF copy here), contact us or Bryan if you can help out:

o JBA 4 inch lift kit for Jeep Liberty, KJ, 2002-2007
o JBA Dana 30 Steel Front Axle IFS
o ARB Air locker front and rear
o ARB Compact On-board Air Kit
o ARB Bull Bar for Jeep Liberty
o Warn XD9000 Winch
o BF Goodrich All Terrain T/A KO LT245/70R16/D
o ARB E-Z Delator Kit
o Hi-Lift Jack HL-484 48”
o Front Runner Wind Cheetah Slimline Roof Rack 1.8M with Tent Mount hardware
o Eezi Awn T Top – Xklusiv – 1.6 roof top tent
o Eezi Awn Series 2000 1.5M “spoyla”
o Front Runner Stainless Steel Camp Table
o Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Portable Toilet
o Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Toilet Kit, pack of 100
o National Luna Weekender 50 Liter Split Fridge Freezer, Aluminum 

Miracles on the wing: bird migration

Five billion.

That’s roughly how many birds migrate each spring and fall—just in North America.

The physical feats performed by many of those birds make the accomplishments of Olympic athletes seem laughable by comparison. A Ruby-throated Hummingbird—which weighs five grams fully fattened for the journey, the same as a nickel—flies non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico, 500 miles in 22 hours. At the end of that flight it weighs about the same as a penny, perhaps three grams. For comparison, a 150-pound human marathon runner can lose four pounds during the 26.2-mile race. Imagine a single event that could strip 50 pounds off him. 

Other flights are equally astonishing. Arctic Terns make the longest migration known—22,000 miles round trip from the Arctic to the Antarctic. In 2007, using satellite tags, scientists tracked the longest non-stop migration flight ever recorded when a shorebird called a Bar-tailed Godwit flew from Alaska to New Zealand—7,145 miles—without pausing to rest, eat, or drink. About 70,000 godwits make this trek each year.

These are superlatives, but each of those five billion migrating North American birds—along with billions more across the planet—performs its own, well, superhuman feat.

Why do they do it? The answer lies entirely within the phenomenon of seasonal change. Every year, the latitudinal zones of greatest productivity in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres shift north and south by thousands of miles with increasing and decreasing solar exposure. Arctic tundra covered in ice and 24-hour night in January is by July burgeoning with life and sunshine. Even states in the northern U.S. change dramatically month to month. Birds that make the trek from warmer winter climes to these rich summer grounds can vastly enhance their food intake and subsequent reproductive success—the end goal of all living things.

If they survive.

For the downside to migration is that it is immensely hazardous, exposing the bird to starvation, predation, dehydration, hypo- and hyperthermia—a catalog of risk. It’s impossible to guess how many thousands of those Ruby-throated Hummingbirds come up just short of the fearsome amount of energy needed to complete their flight, and fall into the sea. A bird that arrives early at its summering grounds can get a head start on territory and breeding—or it can die during a late freeze. Many predators have evolved to prey specifically on migrating birds during peak movement periods. It’s estimated that over 60 percent of some species’ populations fail to make a complete two-way migration.

Partially because of these risks, only about half the estimated 10,000 bird species on earth are migratory (many tropical species don’t need to migrate, thanks to the stable year-round climate in their habitat). The percentage of migratory species varies country to country depending on climate. For example, fully 90 percent of Canadian birds migrate south to the U.S. or beyond each winter. 

The good news for humans is that, twice each year, migration offers a wildlife viewing spectacle beyond compare. Across the U.S. and Europe, known migratory flyways—the routes used by a majority of species due to abundant water and food—attract thousands of people, from avid “twitchers,” as they’re known in Britain, to those with a simple sense of wonder who couldn’t care less if the 200 hawks passing overhead at once at Cape May, New Jersey, are Sharp-shinned or Cooper’s. 

But even backyard birdwatching peaks during spring and fall. Check your local Audubon Society website to find out what’s happening when near your home—or along the route of your travels. Here are a couple of links to get started:

Migration hotspots

200 North American birdwatching spots

Elvis Munis, riding from Chile to Kili, is in the U.S.

Click image to enlarge

28,000 Miles • 2 Years • 47 Countries

Meet Elvis Munis—he’s cycling around the world, unsupported, for two years to raise funds for education for fellow Tanzanian students in wildlife conservation.

In July, Elvis crossed into the U.S. from Mexico, and he's in Tucson, Arizona, right now giving presentations and talking to organizations about support for his cause. He'll be heading to the west coast in August, before heading north to Alaska and west to Russia and beyond.

Chile to Kili was conceived by the 25-year old Tanzanian student and naturalist after he identified one of the major conservation problems in his country: the lack of opportunity for Tanzanians to obtain the education necessary to manage their own natural resources.

The goal is to raise $100,000 as Elvis rides around thewold over the next two years – enough money for ten one-year conservation scholarships, and to support education at the Conservation Resource Centre (CRC).

Change must come from the inside.

Elvis left from Chile on January 1, 2012. He is riding, completely unsupported, around the world for 2 years in an effort to create opportunities for his fellow Tanzanians.

Chile to Kili: Driving change from the seat of a bicycle from ConserVentures on Vimeo.


Elvis is being the change he wants to see in the world.

What are you doing?

Support Change

Follow his progress


Anti-poaching workshop in Kenya

Scouts demonstrating a poacher's snare.The Maasai game scouts in Kenya’s South Rift Valley will soon have extra skills—and some extra equipment—in their arsenal, to help them to continue protecting the rich wildlife of the Shompole and Olkirimatian communities.

ConserVentures has hired Gary Haynes, a retired law enforcement officer with the U.S. Park Service, to lead a seminar in early October to lead a professional development seminar in early October to teach 35 scouts additional skills in tactical anti-poaching tracking. Gary was trained in man-tracking techniques by such specialists as David Scott Donelan, a veteran of the bush wars in southern Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Assisting Gary will be Michael Hardin, a currently serving law enforcement officer with the Park Service who has extensive experience tracking and pursuing smugglers and fugitives throughout the western U.S., and ConserVentures volunteers Mike McCarthy of Park City and Bill Meilhan of Texas.

New first-aid treatment for (some) snake bites

First aid for snake bite has ranged over the years from the ignorant (whisky, live-chicken poultices*) to the formerly accepted but now discounted (incision and suction, ice packs), to the hilariously irrelevant (“Wash the bite with soap and water”—American Red Cross) to outright quackery (electric shock). Since no one has as yet developed an antivenom suitable for field use by non-medical personnel, the single “treatment” recommended by all authorities is “Get the victim to a hospital”—which is okay if you’re two hours from a city and run afoul of a rattlesnake, not so okay if an eastern brown snake nails you two days from Alice Springs. (*Cut open a live chicken and spread it over the bite to extract the venom. When the chicken’s comb turns blue, you’re cured.)

Trips & classes to El Aribabi, Summer 2011

A unique opportunity to explore the birds, wildlife and landscape of El Aribabi Conservation Ranch, the newly designated Natural Protected Area of Sonora, Mexico. Two conservation expeditions are being offered by Cynthia Wolf of Wild by Nature Tours (October 14-16 and 21-23) for only $275 per person (10% discount for couples), which includes all lodging and meals. Guided activities such as hiking, birding and wildlife watching and tracking will be led by Cynthia Wolf, Wild By Nature. The expedition’s caravan departs Nogales, AZ mid-morning on Friday and returns by Sunday late afternoon.

Experience the beauty of the Sonoran Sky Islands while learning about  birds, their identification, behavior, ecology, and other characteristics.  Three weekend workshops are being offered this summer for only $275 per person (10% discount for couples), which includes all lodging, meals, and birdwatching classes instructed by Homer Hansen.  The workshops depart Tucson Friday mid day and return by late afternoon on Sunday.  Minimum 6 participants required for each workshop. June 10-12, June 24-26, and July 15-17.

Wildlife tracking workshop in northern Mexico

ConserVentures assisted Sky Island Alliance this past weekend teaching a wildlife tracking class at El Aribabi Conservation Ranch in northern Sonora, just 30 miles from the U.S. border. Roseann & Jonathan Hanson volunteered as instructors, joining Sergio Avila and Jessica Lamberton of Sky Island Alliance, and Cynthia Wolf, of New Mexico, in teaching the class to 9 volunteers who are part of SIA's wildlife linkages program. Roseann helped start the program when she was director of SIA in early 2000. We found tracks of many animals, including bobcat, coyote, mountain lion, and a jaguar-killed deer. See our photo gallery here: El Aribabi Tracking Workshop. For more information on how volunteer wildlife tracking programs help save habitat for wildlife, please visit

Overland Expo nearly doubles in size

To say that Overland Expo 2011 was a huge success is in fact an understatement: the growth, excitement, and quality blew us away. Thanks to our title sponsors [Four Wheel CampersARB-USASportsmobileOverland JournalEquipt Expedition Outfitters] and special sponsors Land Rover, RawHyde Adventures BMW Academy, Jeep, and MaxTrax. For complete news, photo, and video, please visit