Author Archives: Tompkins Conservation

Donor Spotlight: T.A. Barron

T. A. Barron is the award-winning author of more than 30 highly acclaimed books, including many international bestsellers. He has won the de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature” and other awards.

What motivates you to support conservation and/or Tompkins Conservation in particular?

I support environmental groups because they are great forces for good, healthy, sustainable life on our fragile planet! It’s that simple. Without the dedicated, savvy, hard-working folks at those groups—people who could be making lots more money doing something else, if that was all they cared about—we are lost. With them…we have a genuine chance to save our planet. Our children. Our fellow creatures. And ourselves.

In sum, I support environmental organizations because I can’t give up on this home planet of ours. Yes, it is beleaguered and trashed and attacked on every level. That we know beyond doubt. But it is also full of enduring wonder, beauty, and mystery—a place that nourishes us physically and spiritually every single day.

What environmental groups provide, at the core, is a chance for life on Earth to survive. And something more — a chance for humanity to rise to a higher level. To be inspired to choose long-term wisdom over short-term greed. To be our best selves as stewards of this planet.

No better example exists than Tompkins Conservation. Inspired by a bold, magnificent dream to protect forever the most marvelous wild ecosystems of Patagonia, this organization continues to make enormous progress, helping the people, plants, and creatures of this wondrous region to live in natural harmony. Whenever I feel burdened by the weight of the Earth’s environmental challenges, I think of Tompkins Conservation and my hope is renewed.


Do you address environmental issues when writing for young audiences?

Nature is hugely important in all my books. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that I treat the natural world not merely as a setting, a backdrop for my stories—but as a full-blown character. Places are alive, just like you or me. They have moods, histories, and qualities that can be bizarre, humorous, tragic, mysterious, or inspiring. Part of my job as a writer is to make those places so real, so sensuous, so fully alive, that readers want to voyage there again and again. In this way, environmental awareness is woven through all my books.

On top of that, I always weave environmental themes into my books. I truly believe that saving the Earth is about saving our fellow creatures—as well as ourselves. Stories are a wonderful way to convey this idea, sometimes directly and sometimes through metaphors.

My books about the young wizard Merlin — 13 books in all, now translated into more than two dozen languages — are really an extended environmental parable. Merlin (much like the guy who wrote the books) learns all his greatest lessons from nature. His elemental magic comes from listening to the language of rivers and trees, flying as a hawk, and running with the deer.

Here’s an excerpt (from The Fires of Merlin) when he becomes a stag:
«Somehow, in a mysterious way, I was listening not just to sounds, but to the land itself. I could hear, not with my ears but with my bones, the tensing and flexing of the earth under my hooves, the changing flow of the wind, the secret connections among all the creatures who shared these meadows—whether they crawled, slithered, flew, or ran. Not only did I hear them; I celebrated them, for we were bound together as securely as a blade of grass is bound to the soil.»

As a longtime author writing for young people, do you see children’s relationship with the natural world changing?

The most important thing is to convey to our children, through actions as well as words, the interdependence of all living creatures. We all belong to the same family; we are part of the community of species; our fate is connected to the health of our planet.

How do we convey these ideas? Through the stories we share… and the places we share. Sure, there are worrisome examples of young people feeling less connected to nature — but that’s no match for nature’s powers of inspiration.

For example… just take children outside to look at the stars together on a summer night. It’s always a delight to watch kids wake up to the wonder. There is nothing like gazing up at the stars to feel both very small, and very large, at once — to feel humbled by the vast sweep of creation, and, at the same time, to feel enlarged because we are all part of that creation.

Does your interest in Patagonia and the Route of Parks stem from your travels there?

Actually, I felt the allure of Patagonia long before I was ever able to go there. Not from any particular source, but from the name itself — its association with the most wild and wonderful places on Earth. So when I turned 50, I gave myself a special birthday present of a 3-week trip to Patagonia. My wife and I hiked through many unforgettable parts of Chile and Argentina. And I’ve gone back several times since, because the magic of this place only keeps growing.

Now the Route of Parks promises to inspire many others from around the globe to come and experience the treasures of Patagonia. But be warned: No single visit will be enough. You, like me, will come back. And you, like me, will feel deep and enduring gratitude to Tompkins Conservation!

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(English) First Mating of a Wild and Captive Jaguar has produced two Cubs

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Jaguars Roam Free in Argentina’s Iberá Wetlands for the First Time in 70 Years

Argentina has brought jaguars back to the vast Iberá wetlands, seventy years after the species was driven to local extinction through hunting and habitat loss.

An adult jaguar (Panthera onca) and her two captive-born cubs have been released into the wild, the first in a group, currently with nine individuals, slated to repopulate the species in the Gran Iberá Park, a protected 1.7 million acre wilderness of national and provincial parklands. Reestablishing this critically endangered species, of which only 200 remain in Argentina, is a crucial step in ensuring the ecological health of South America’s principal water basins and reestablishing a biological corridor for jaguars that once stretched continuously to the American Southwest.

“We have taken another great step for the preservation of the jaguar in Iberá,” announced Argentina’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Juan Cabandié. In Northeast Argentina, the jaguar has long been a symbol of strength in Guaraní heritage also representing the region’s cultural identity.

Saving the species was deemed a priority by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) at the World Conservation Congress in September, 2020. The largest feline in the Americas, the jaguar has lost over half its historical range, leaving some populations geographically isolated, losing their genetic diversity. When this happens, the jaguar is no longer able to fulfill its key ecological role as an apex predator.

“We congratulate the government of Argentina, Argentina’s National Parks and the Province of Corrientes for their commitment to rewilding this iconic species,” said Kristine Tompkins, president of Tompkins Conservation and UN Patron of Protected Areas. “As we start the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, it’s time to recognize the central role that rewilding can play in restoring climate stability and planetary health.”

Bringing back top predators such as the jaguar and the giant river otter, and seed bearers such as peccaries and macaws, is helping the Iberá wetlands recover from hunting and decades of cattle grazing and monoculture plantations, according to Sebastian Di Martino, Director of Conservation at Rewilding Argentina, a strategic partner of Tompkins Conservation. According to Di Martino, “Just as the return of gray wolves to Yellowstone National Park recalibrated whole ecosystems that had fallen out of balance, jaguars can restore these wetlands. Rewilding is also revitalizing the economy of small communities throughout Corrientes Province through wildlife-watching and related services.”

Iberá National Park was created in 2018 with land donations made by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins via Tompkins Conservation, in collaboration with Rewilding Argentina and local and national authorities. A one-of-a-kind facility, the Jaguar Reintroduction Center, located in the wetlands, has so far bred six cubs, which alongside rehabilitated wild jaguars, will be released throughout 2021. In coordination with Argentina’s National Parks, Rewilding Argentina monitors the released population via signals from VHF and GPS transmitters on collared adult jaguars.


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by | enero 19, 2021 · 14:46 02Tue, 19 Jan 2021 14:46:28 +000028.

(English) Mating Wild and Captive Jaguars to Save the Species

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(English) Community Beautification in Chilean Patagonia

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(English) Argentina Welcomes Red-and-Green Macaws: the first Born in the Wild in over a Century

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