Traveling to Support Democracy

Teen girls at Karnak Temple spent 15 minutes talking with ConserVentures directors Roseann Hanson and Diane Boyer on a recent trip to Egypt.If some of our friends and family thought we were foolish for regularly traveling to Mexico, the reaction when we announced we were going to Egypt was incredulity. “Where? Are you nuts?” 

It didn’t help that, shortly after we left Cairo to explore the Western Desert, several Americans were detained by the army (to breathless headlines in the U.S.), and two women tourists and their guide were kidnapped in Sinai by fractious Bedouin nomads.

It developed that the detained individuals, who worked for a couple of NGOs, were allegedly misusing funds to engage in political activities, a big no-no for a tax-exempt organization, and the tourists, who were released within hours, commented on the generous hospitality shown by their kidnappers, and retained no animosity at all. Nevertheless, fears for our safety spiked.

Meanwhile, blissfully ignorant of all this, in every oasis and neighborhood we visited we were continually accosted by people who asked where we were from, and on being told “America,” grabbed us, shook our hands, and said, “Thank you so much for coming!” Some were near tears. Everywhere people shouted, “America number one!” and, “Obama!” with big thumbs-up. We lost count of the demands to have our photos taken with residents; there’s no telling how on many Facebook pages we now co-star.

A special place indeed: Return to Rincón de Guadalupe

Seven species of moth unknown to science. New range extensions—by 100 miles—for two species of amphibian. Nine reptile records in the first herpetology survey of the Bacadéhuachi Mountains. The interim official report on the MABA expedition to El Rincón de Guadalupe (available as a PDF download) confirmed our initial high expectations for this beautiful and biologically unexplored region (to read the story of the first expedition, click here: Treasures of the Sierra Madre )

Despite our brief time there, it was clear that the area holds all the potential as an important biological sanctuary that the organizers of the trip expected. That potential prompted Tom van Devender, the director of the MABA program, to break with the usual MABA protocol and organize a return trip to the same spot. We jumped at the chance to be included, since we wanted to donate and install a couple of long-term motion-triggered trail cameras to expand our records of the large mammals in the area.

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.)

East Africa expedition this September

ConserVentures directors Roseann & Jonathan Hanson will spend a month in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda on a conservation expedition to develop support programs for Resources for Rangers and Crafts for Conservation. Roseann will also be assisting African Conservation Centre in Nairobi with media relations for the International Conference on Biodiversity and Climate Change. Watch the ConserVentures blog for trip updates.