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Friday, January 30, 2009

Clouded Leopard Summit Draws to a Close
It’s hard to believe, but it is really over. We wrapped up the Summit today with what might have been the most hectic day yet. Our working groups hammered out the goals and action steps we wanted to undertake to move forward in addressing the issues we identified yesterday. This was the real meat of the meeting; all the work so far led up to being able to get this done. I will provide much more information on the process and actual results of the Summit once I return to the U.S. next week. It really was a fascinating process to see the evolution of not only our conservation strategy, but also to see how the working groups coalesced after spending so much time working together on issues of such great concern to us all. As the lone educator in my Borneo working group I learned a ton from my field biologist colleagues. For instance, I never realized how excited researchers get about a newly discovered satellite map detailing Borneo’s forest cover: (Note: this is not a posed photo!)
I was really pretty naïve about the amount of work this Summit would entail. I had been working non-stop on preparations for several months prior to the meeting and thought that once we began, I would devote all my attention to being a participant. This was definitely NOT the case. I had a million details to attend to which unfortunately precluded my ability to really get to know some of our participants better. However, I’m comforted by the fact that they all had many opportunities to network among themselves and I could tell that the meeting really helped facilitate the forging of connections that I’m sure will be long-lasting. This was one of the primary goals of the Summit so we can be very pleased that this was achieved.

Speaking of being busy, in the midst of frantically trying to help our working group complete our tasks, I had to break for a midday press conference. We really wanted to invite the press to hear the results of the meeting in order to publicize the plight of clouded leopards and other small cats. Press conferences here in Thailand are fairly formal affairs with a panel presenting information to the media. Our panel had representatives from Kasetsart University, the Department of National Parks, the Zoological Park Organization of Thailand, one of our facilitators Christine Breitenmoser from the IUCN, and both JoGayle Howard and I. We weren’t sure if anyone would show up, so we were pleased to welcome reporters from eleven different media, including four television stations. It was an interesting experience trying to appear fascinated with the proceedings when it was all in Thai!
The event wrapped up with more group reporting and a brief closing ceremony where participants received lovely certificates. We then adjourned to the patio for one more amazing dinner and last conversations with new friends. As usual, our host Dr. Naris had arranged for more of his talented students to entertain us – this time fire spinners! It was pretty cool.
Andreas complained that I hadn't posted any photos of him yet (even though he gets prominent coverage in this space due to our support of his Borneo research project!) so here he is enjoying a Singha beer with Carl Traeholt.Tomorrow morning a group of about twenty of us are heading off on our field trip to Phu Kheow Wildlife Sanctuary. We’ll stay two nights, touring and hearing presentations about research efforts in the Sanctuary. Afterwards we head straight to Khao Kheow Open Zoo to visit the clouded leopard breeding project. We’ll be checking in on the cubs born in November – we can’t wait! I won’t be able to report back until returning to Bangkok for one night before heading home. I’ll provide much more information about everything in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!

Oh, I forgot to introduce our meeting’s mascot. This is a newly discovered tiger/clouded leopard hybrid:

1 comments:

Lisa Stich said...

Karen:

Congratulations on the summit! What an enormous accomplishment - I can't wait to hear more when you get back. Ran in to Paul on Saturday, and he reminded me to check your blog. Fascinating!

Keep a lookout for sticky rice!

Lisa

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