Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cat Conservation is Hard Work!

Wow, what a day. Did we ever WORK! We spent most of the day in our working groups identifying the issues and threats facing the felids in our region. Once we teased out the details, my working group, Borneo, identified over 20 different threats and issues influencing cat conservation. Since it is unrealistic to think that this group has the power to actually impact all of those issues, we prioritized using two different criteria: what issues negatively impact cats the most (i.e. conversion of forest to oil palm plantations vs. direct hunting for trade) and which are issues we can actually do something about (filling gaps in scientific knowledge of cats vs. increasing law enforcement.) We want our final recommendations and action steps to be real and achievable by the members of this workshop – mostly field biologists with an educator (me!) thrown in for good measure. If we had a contingent of government representatives who have the power to influence legislation, our priority issues might have been different.

Cracking the whip to keep all the working groups on task all day was Onnie. Here she is in action!

As soon as work ended today, our hosts once again whisked us off for another Thai adventure, this time a dinner cruise along the Chao Praya River. This proved to be another great bonding opportunity for the group, with the added bonus of some great scenery of Bangkok at night. As is standard practice for any celebration in Southeast Asia, the karaoke machine was broken out almost immediately, with the first tune being the ever-popular Country Roads. There definitely must be a Thailand branch of the John Denver fan club as I have heard this number performed at every karaoke event I have attended (several) over my years visiting here. I do have video proof and will insert it when I have more time.

As we pulled up to the restaurant that operates our dinner cruise (The Dairy Queen!), I spied a fruit vendor on the corner and to my complete amazement and delight they had both mangosteens and mangoes for sale! These are my two very favorite fruits and I had been told that they were out of season and had not seen them anywhere. I had to pay a bit, but I was a very happy camper… I must wrap up so I can go enjoy my three kilos of fruit!


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