I was so glad that I had the opportunity to meetthe Chinese Wildlife Conservation IVLP group we hosted July 22-28. The group was composed of government officials, academics,and non-profit conservation groups, and they were from all different parts of China. Two of the group had worked with Pandas and one with Golden Tamarind Monkeys. During their stay in Arizona our visitors were able to learn how the U.S. manages wildlife and habitat through government and NGO involvement, and meet counterparts and contacts they can correspond with in the future.
Our first meeting was held at Scottsdale Community College Natural Science Building to learn about the school’s Center for Urban and Native Wildlife. Dr. John Weser took us to The Greenhouse and his studentsshowed us how to plant seeds and take cuttings. Our visitors tried planting seeds and cutting local bushes and shrubs. Also, we saw desert tortoises and went to Toad Hall to see other reptiles. Dr. Weser’s studentsdemonstrated feeding toads with cockroaches they breed on site (It was so gross!). SCC was kind enough to present the group with bandanas, which the visitors proudly wore for the remainder of the trip.
Later that day we went to the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center to learn about the wild and exotic animal rescue, rehabilitation and release processes the center has. We got to see many rare wild animals such as mountain lion, leopard, bears, coyotes, White Tail fox and Mexican Grey Wolves. Our visitors enjoyed every moment and took many pictures. It was much better than even the Phoenix Zoo because we were able to see the animals at very close quarters, and also learned about the rescue process.
On Saturday, we spent our entire day at Bar X Ranch in northern Arizona to learn about the impact of volunteer conservation projects and meet representatives from the Mule Deer Foundation and Arizona Game & Fish Department.They had arranged for us tovisit a completed conservation projects and some of the ranch. This required driving through some rough country. The group was very impressed with the project, designed to catch rain water and funnel it into a holding tank which then distributes it to a watering trough. A grate to prevent bears from playing with the float covered part of the tank. Back at the Bar X Ranch HQ, Mike, the owner, showed us the stable and some of his cattle and horses. We went into the stable and followed a narrow aisle and finally stopped at small cage. Mike trapped me in the cage to demonstrate how they would slaughter a cow to our visitors. He tightened the cage and pretended to stamp my head and cut my neck. It was such a scary experience and I could emphasize with how the cows feel in this small cage at the end of their life. After that, we had a nice American barbeque for lunch, with burgers and “fixin’s”, and a “Welcome China” cakeas a dessert. Afterwards Jim Lawrence, Terry Herndon gave a presentation on behalf of the Mule Deer Foundation, and Chip Young discussed the role of Arizona Game and Fish. The visitors also had the opportunity to introduce themselves and talk a little about their organizations and goals. At the end of the day Mike and his wife Diana then saddled a couple of horses so we could try riding. Our visitors seemed so excited to do that and took lots of pictures with horses. I’m sure it was unforgettable memory for our visitors to try horseback riding in Arizona;it certainly was for me!!
Our visitors from China experienced thetrue nature of Arizona from the Sonoran Desert in Phoenix to the mountain ranges, forests and ranches of northern Arizona. Along with the visits I described they also met with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, the Nature Conservancy, and had a more formal meeting with Arizona Game and Fish. These meetings all provided a varied and in depth look at conservation and habitat management in Arizona and the United States. I know our visitors had a wonderful time here in Arizona and hope they keep in touch with the people they were able to meet, and also have success in their conservation efforts.
JungYoonAhn, Global Ties Arizona