Staff Spotlight: Alicia Delgado, Wildlife Biologist at Iberá National Park

P1190830 Name: Alicia Delgado

 Role: Wildlife Biologist, CLT Argentina

 Year joined CLT: 2007

 Hometown: Mercedes, Argentina

 Main Area of Study: Anteater Reintroduction and Rehabilitation


Alicia Delgado (or Ali, as she is often called) was born in 1979 in Mercedes, near Iberá, and grew up on her family ranch. Since childhood she was influenced by her father who encouraged her curiosity about nature. These experiences sparked her interest in the natural world and prompted her to study Conservation Biology in Córdoba, where Alicia was attracted to applied work rather than to pure research. After finishing university studies she returned to Corrientes and soon had the opportunity to start working on an ambitious project that was just beginning—reintroducing the extirpated wildlife in Iberá. She knew she had found her place.

Once a part of the Conservation Land Trust team, Alicia began working for the pampas deer project in the Aguapey in 2007. Since then, she has conducted annual surveys that provide insight into the state of this rare deer in Corrientes, which inhabits private cattle estancias and forestry lands. During this task, Alicia and her assistants visit local ranches and talk with their owners and workers, to obtain and provide information about pampas deer ecology and conservation. Doing this work, which often involves days of traveling on dirt roads under the rain or heavy heat, is important for learning the status of the population, which serves as a source of animals to fund new populations inside Iberá Park.

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In addition to this role, since 2009 Alicia has been responsible for the anteater rescue center and quarantine in the Biological Station located at Corrientes. There she is responsible for hand-rearing the orphan anteaters arriving each year. Alicia’s maternal instinct and her experience as a mother of two girls, together with her great interest in conservation and animal welfare, have been key for a center that has managed more than 90 anteaters over ten years. Alicia also decides the right time for the anteaters to be taken to their final destination in the Socorro or San Alonso reserves, where they are left under supervision of the management and monitoring team in the field. Something that comforts and excites her is to know that most of the rescued animals, in many cases saved from a sure death, have the opportunity to be rehabilitated and live freely in their natural environment.

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The expertise that Alicia has acquired over the years makes her one of the most experienced conservation professionals in anteater management in South America. Along with these tasks, Alicia and her team are responsible for the care of other species that go through the quarantine facilities, including peccaries, tapirs, jaguars, and maned wolves. Upon returning home each evening, with an occasional scratch on her arms, Alice always has interesting stories to tell her daughters Isa and Ana, who share their mother’s affection for the animals from the Center.

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The First Wild Tapir is Born in Iberá

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Nena, a newly released tapir, and her new baby (June 2017). Rincon del Socorro, Iberá Park: Photo: Gerardo Cerón

Nena, a female tapir reintroduced to the region, has given birth to her first calf

After over half a century of absence from the region, tapirs are now beginning to reproduce in the wilds of Iberá. The tapir is the largest land mammal in South America and is classified as ‘endangered’ in Argentina. This peculiar animal has seen its population reduced to less than half of its original numbers over the past 100 years due to habitat destruction and hunting.

In order to reverse this trend, in 2016 the Conservation Land Trust (CLT) began a project focused on bringing this great mammal back to Iberá. CLT began this project by releasing tapirs from the Government of Salta’s Indigenous Wildlife Station and the University of Tucumán’s Horco Molle Experimental Reserve. As a result of these reintroduction efforts, the CLT rewilding team has confirmed the birth of the first wild calf to the newly restored tapir population.

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Photo: Gerardo Cerón

The newborn has been determined to be male and the son of Nena, a female that joined the tapir population founder group in Iberá from the Indigenous Wildlife Station of Salta this past March. With the arrival of this calf, there are now seven tapirs (2 males and 4 adult females, plus the small male) living in Rincón del Socorro, a natural reserve owned by CLT that will be donated to the Argentinian state in order to form part of Iberá National Park.

The birth of this calf signifies another step forward in the ambitious task of bringing back the many fauna that have disappeared from the Iberá region. This rewilding (or restoration of extinct species) program, the largest on the American continent, began in 2007 with the release of the program’s first giant anteaters. Created by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins through their nonprofit organization, the program has benefited from the active participation and support of the governments of Corrientes and Argentina, provincial authorities, dozens of public and private organizations, and many Argentinian and foreign individuals. Iberá’s rewilding program is further strengthened by the donation of CLT’s lands to create Iberá Park (which, at 700,000 hectares, will be the largest in Argentina) and the work of multiple institutions to promote Iberá as an ecotourism destination that serves as a source of employment and pride for the region’s inhabitants.

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Photo: Gerardo Cerón

In the words of Sebastián de Martino, coordinator of the CLT Fauna Restoration Program at Iberá, “The birth of this calf augments the births of other previously-extinct species in Iberá, such as the pampas deer, giant anteater and peccary. We want to thank our Tucuman and Salta colleagues, who donated the tapirs, for helping Corrientes bring back this key piece of its original fauna. We hope that this good news will soon be complemented by the birth of the region’s first jaguar cubs. This is an example of what can be achieved in our country when public and private entities collaborate on working towards a common goal.”

The Restoration of Iberá

The Iberá Natural Reserve, covering 1.3 million hectares of public and private lands, was created by the Corrientes government in 1983. Douglas and Kristine Tompkins were invited by the Argentinian national park management to visit Iberá in 1997. Enchanted by this impressive wilderness area, the Tompkinses began working in the region through their organization, CLT; eventually buying 150,000 hectares of private lands, with the aim of one day donating them to the Argentinian state.

Under the care of the foundation’s veterinarians and biologists, working in collaboration with the provincial reserve staff, the region’s wildlife recovered quickly and Iberá became a world-renowned tourist destination. Concurrently, the CLT-led wildlife restoration program has managed to establish two new populations of pampas deer and anteaters in the region, along with early nuclei of tapir, collared peccary and green-winged macaws. Additionally, the program became the first in the world to undergo the creation of a jaguar breeding project, aimed at reintroducing these large cats into areas where the species had been previously extirpated. All of these efforts were supported by the agreement reached, between CLT, the government of Corrientes and the current government of Argentina, to create the 700,000 hectare Iberá Park through the combination of Correntine fiscal lands and lands donated by CLT.

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Kristine McDivitt Tompkins Awarded the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

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New York, June 22, 2017 –Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, co-founder of Tompkins Conservation alongside her late husband Douglas Tompkins, has been awarded the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, bestowed by the Carnegie family of institutions. The medal seeks to inspire a culture of giving by recognizing outstanding philanthropists who reflect the values of Andrew Carnegie and his philosophy of giving—what he called the “business of benevolence.” The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy was established in 2001 and is awarded every two years. The 22 Carnegie institutions in the United States and Europe nominate the medalists, and a selection committee representing seven of those institutions makes the final selection. The honorees are recognized as catalysts for good whose philanthropy has had a significant and lasting impact on a particular field, nation, or community of people.

Having amassed what was one of the greatest fortunes of his time, Carnegie, the legendary Scottish-American industrialist, decided to reinvent his fortune in society with the stated goal of doing “real and permanent good in the world.” His philosophy of giving was underpinned by the belief that with wealth comes responsibility. He believed that philanthropy’s main aim, as opposed to charity’s, was to address the causes of social ills rather than their manifestations. This belief is shared by the Tompkinses, whose work in conservation, rewilding, ecological agriculture and activism seeks to provide fundamental solutions, from carbon sequestration to healthy ecosystems to providing viable rural livelihoods.

“I am honored to be recognized by the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy on behalf of our team and in recognition of my husband, Douglas Tompkins, whose vision continues to be the backbone of our work,” says Tompkins. “I congratulate my fellow honorees and am proud to stand among them.  We all stand in the shadow of great philanthropists who came before us and I hope that I may live up to the ideals of those who believe it is critical to civil society that as individuals we live the ethic that the more we receive, the more we give.”

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From the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy:

“The Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy honorees, past and present, personify the ideals of Carnegie’s vision, seeking through their giving to create a world of positive change. They exercise the same wisdom, foresight, and passion in their philanthropic activities as they have in their highly successful professional endeavors. They are catalysts for good who are inspirations to others. They are models for the next generation of philanthropists.

“Ms. Tompkins, your passionate commitment to ecosystem restoration is astonishing in its scope and magnitude, a true testament to Andrew Carnegie’s belief that public parks should be placed “in the very front rank of benefactions.” Your conservation efforts are visionary and resonate beyond the boarders within which they are performed. We are proud to announce Ms. Tompkins as a 2017 CMoP honoree at this Thursday’s Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy Forum.”

The 2017 honorees are:

  • Mei Hing Chak China; Heung Kong Charitable Foundation
  • F. (Gerry) and Marguerite Lenfest U.S.A.; Lenfest Foundation
  • Azim Premji India; Azim Premji Foundation
  • Julian Robertson U.S.A.; Robertson Foundation
  • Jeff Skoll U.S.A.; Skoll Foundation
  • Kristine McDivitt Tompkins U.S.A.; Tompkins Conservation
  • Shelby White U.S.A., Leon Levy Foundation
  • Sir James d. Wolfensohn U.S.A. and Australia; Wolfensohn Center for Development

The Carnegie institutions will award the medals during a formal ceremony at The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on October 3, 2017. The Carnegie Corporation of New York will host the private event. Katty Kay, anchor of BBC World News America, will serve as master of ceremonies.

For more information:

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Secretariat of the 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy

Communications Department

externalaffairs@carnegie.org

212.207.6273

www.medalofphilanthropy.org

Tompkins Conservation media contact:

Alison.kelman@tompkinsconservation.org, 415.229.9365

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STATEMENT FROM TOMPKINS CONSERVATION REGARDING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD

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Photo: Justin Lotak

The people of Tompkins Conservation, who are working in three countries on two continents, are appalled by the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. participation in the Paris agreement. While insufficient to address the climate crisis, the Paris accord is a useful first step toward bolder, binding action that moves human society toward a low-carbon energy future.

Beyond the richly deserved condemnation from around the world, the Trump administration’s action deserves to be analyzed, ridiculed, and contrasted with the leadership shown by other national governments around the globe. In Chile and Argentina, where our national park creation and rewilding efforts are helping build resiliency to climate change, Presidents Michelle Bachelet and Mauricio Macri, respectively, have articulated their strong commitment to the growing international movement to address climate change.

More important than words, however, the Bachelet and Macri governments have taken decisive action in recent months to expand protected areas that sustain vital wildlife habitat and sequester carbon. Both of these leaders have explicitly drawn the connection between habitat conservation and their nations’ commitments to mitigate climate change, understanding that the crucial task of transitioning toward a clean energy economy is only part of confronting the climate crisis.

At Tompkins Conservation, we believe that the willful ignorance of some political leaders can and will be trumped by the concerted actions of individuals, governments, and nongovernmental organizations across the planet who are working for a durable future—for all life on Earth. We are more committed than ever to use our energy, expertise, and resources to advance hopeful, durable projects that protect wild nature, benefit human communities, and help minimize climate chaos. With every hectare protected and species recovery effort implemented, we are acting with our hearts and hands to create a world with adequate habitat for all and a stable climate that supports flourishing natural and human communities.

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Staff Spotlight: Ignacio Jiménez Pérez, CLT Conservation Director

_CJR6869Name: Ignacio Jiménez Pérez

Role: Conservation Director, CLT Argentina

Year joined CLT: 2005

Hometown: Valencia, Spain

Main area of study: “Institutional Ecology,” which studies how organizational arrangements can make conservation more effective

Ignacio came to CLT Argentina over ten years ago with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of wildlife conservation. Beginning his career with a degree in Animal Biology from the Universidad de Valencia in Spain, and a Masters in Wildlife Management and Conservation from the Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica, Ignacio has gained decades of field research and management experience from around the world. From the study and management of manatees in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to the assessment of endangered species protection in Spain, Ignacio’s work to research, manage and restore wildlife has put him at the top of his field. Also a professor, Ignacio has taught well over 20 courses in Spain, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Argentina, and Chile about interdisciplinary issues related to conservation. His research and conservation efforts have been featured in various scientific journals, books, and other publications.

Beginning in 2005, Ignacio’s work with CLT initially focused on endangered species recovery in the Iberá wetlands, which is home to species such as the giant anteater, pampas deer, and jaguar. Now taking on a more communications-based role, Ignacio is still the leading authority on rewilding in the Iberá region. We had the chance to ask Ignacio a few key questions about his path to CLT and what inspires him in his work today. Below is our conversation:

Q: How did you first get involved with The Conservation Land Trust?

A: I was travelling with my Argentinean girlfriend (now my wife and mother of two beautiful, wild daughters) through Pumalín in January 2005. I had just moved to Argentina from Costa Rica and was looking for some exciting conservation work to do. While I was at the cozy café at Caleta Gonzalo I was wondering, what is this organization that is trying to manage a private reserve as a top-notch national park? Then I saw the book about the 10 first years of CLT. Going through the pages I discovered that they had a project in a place called Iberá in Argentina, which sounded slightly familiar to me. Then I saw that they were planning on reintroducing six species of mammals. I knew that nobody had tried something like that in South America before, and I thought, “these guys are crazy!” And then, “if someone can do this, maybe it’s them.” A few months later I got in contact with Sofía Heinonen, who was just starting a conservation team and looking for someone with experience in endangered species recovery. The rest, as they say, is history!

Q: Can you please explain a bit about your role at CLT Argentina?

A: From 2005 to 2015 I was in charge of coordinating our rewilding program aimed at reintroducing locally extirpated species. By 2015 it was obvious that my role was getting too broad, because I had to manage a growing team of professionals who were actually in charge if the animals, getting all the permits from authorities, which is one of the toughest jobs in conservation, and also managing communication, fundraising, and training. It was just too much. With Sofía, our Director in Argentina, we decided to split the job and look for a person who would be mostly focused on the actual rewilding, while I would focus more on strategic communication and institutional issues for all of CLT Argentina.

Q: What does rewilding mean to you?

A: It means working hard to get things better in the natural world, not only avoiding that they get worse. It’s something proactive and inspiring, instead of just being reactive and “on the defensive.” Through rewilding we can really improve the state of the natural ecosystems that we are entrusted to care for, and also inspire people to support conservation!

Q: Can you explain a bit about Iberá’s jaguar reintroduction program? What are the program’s goals for 2017?

A: The jaguar program in Iberá is the apex of the Iberá Rewilding Program, both because it is the most difficult species to work with (you don’t want to work with an animal that it’s either hated/feared or loved, with no space in between!) and because it implies bringing back one the most important pieces of the whole ecosystem (i.e. it’s a top predator; like the “dome” of this “natural cathedral” that is the Iberá landscape). In the end we were surprised by the high level of support of the local population, because they see jaguars as a “vanished distant relative” since many local gauchos compare themselves with jaguars, as part of their cultural and natural heritage.

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Naguel and Tobuna, Iberá Park’s first two jaguars to the Jaguar Breeding Center. Photo: CLT Argentina

Q: You were recently working in South Africa. Can you explain a bit about what you were doing there?

A: I went to South Africa both for a family experience and for a professional goal. At the family level it was a great opportunity for my daughters (8 and 9 years old) to live in another culture, improve their English and enjoy amazing wildlife and landscapes. For the family as a whole, it was extremely satisfying. At the professional level, through my job in rewilding in Iberá (and my personal interest in organizational issues) I came to discover that Southern Africa, as a region, was decades ahead of the rest of the world regarding the restoration of extirpated populations of large animals. Knowing this, I couldn’t help but travel there to learn and bring that practical knowledge to South America!

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Ignacio with Carito (one of CLT wildlife veterinarians) during a visit to a rhino conservation project in South Africa. Photo: Ignacio Jiménez Pérez

Q: What does Iberá becoming a National Park mean for the park’s rewilding initiatives?

A: The Iberá Program was the result of Dougs and Kris’ vision from the beginning, and this was very clear: making a vast national park that could stand the test of time and bring back the missing ecological pieces (i.e. extirpated fauna). Without the park and its long-term legal protection, there would be no rewilding, because there would be no protected habitat for the reintroduced giant anteaters, pampas deer, tapirs, jaguars, etc.

The project that inspires me the most nowadays, is a book that we are finishing that combines more than two decades of personal experience managing, visiting, studying and learning from conservation programs in four continents. In CLT Argentina we privately call this book “The Manual,” since it combines most of the experience gained in 25 years of Tompkins Conservation with what we have learned working in and visiting other conservation programs. We believe that we have been able to develop a ground-proofed method to create and manage protected areas and rewild large areas of the planet.

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Watching mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Photo: Ignacio Jiménez Pérez

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