Thought I’d share some exciting news on the wildlife front – a lion has been spotted for the first time in nearly 20 years in Gabon. Researchers earlier this year picked up on a male through the use of camera traps in Bateke National Park. Although this is just one male, and it is unclear if any females are close enough for mating, this news is exciting about the potential for Africa’s biggest cat to once again roam the grasslands of eastern Gabon.
March 21 was the International Day of Forests (or World Forests Day). The absolute best way to celebrate our forests, in my humble opinion, is go get out there an enjoy the forests sustainably – take a hike and marvel at the absolute brilliance of a Ponderosa pine or a Douglas fir (if you happen to be in Montana), the majestic grandeur of a Coast Redwood in Northern California, or the heft and authority of a Baobab tree in Senegal; or try to imagine the intricate ties connecting the ecosystem of a temperate rainforest of British Columbia, or the heat and humidity of the lowland tropical rainforests of Gabon or Brazil. These forests sustain us, provide food and livelihood and shelter for millions of people, and recreation and spiritual healing for even more (and that’s not even taking into account the critical role forests play for millions of species of birds and mammals, arthropods, and other plant species!). Suffice it to say, our forests are pretty darn essential to our lives, whether we are aware of that or not.
Another excellent way to celebrate our forests is to learn about them through centuries of literature – from John Muir’s writings to Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, these ecosystems continue to inspire authors to recount their tales, and in many cases, to seek to provide better protection, management (where necessary), and sustainable thinking about what is more than a mere collection of trees. This inspiration led me to publish Glimpses through the Forests: Memories of Gabon nearly 2 years ago, and it continues to thrill me when I am able to venture out into a forest.
So Happy World Forests Day (a day late), and let’s all pitch in to help conserve, protect, maintain, and enjoy our forests.