Over the years, I've had the pleasure of working with some great people who have not only been exceptionally generous with their time and expertise, but who also are doing good conservation-related work that I am happy to support.
THE CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY - There are countless conservation organizations on Earth doing important and valuable work, and I wish I could list them all here, but one of my local favorites is the Center for Biological Diversity. This Tucson-based group has made outstanding achievements in preserving Earth's diversity of life on a very modest budget. They're a big bang for your conservation buck. To learn more about supporting the Center, check out www.biologicaldiversity.org.
THE NATURE CONSERVANCY - I
spent seven great years working with the deeply committed conservationists of
The Nature Conservancy. You can learn more about their emphasis on lasting
results at large scales at www.nature.org.
CRISTALINO JUNGLE LODGE AND CRISTALINO ECOLOGICAL FOUNDATION - Located in northern Mato Grosso, Brazil, Cristalino Jungle Lodge is simply one of the most beautiful and wildlife-rich locations on the planet. Karen and I have had the good fortune to have lived and worked in Cristalino's pristine forests for seven months in the past few years, and during that time, we've been highly impressed by the effective work that the Cristalino Ecological Foundation has done to protect the area - www.cristalinolodge.com.br or www.fundacaocristalino.com.br.
EL TRIUNFO BIOSPHERE RESERVE - I 've never experienced a landscape in Mexico as wild and pristine as that of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve in southern Chiapas. Perhaps the most bird and wildlife rich area in the country, this magical reserve is carefully supported and managed by a hardworking group of local conservationists whose work is a gift to the world - www.fondoeltriunfo.org
PROAVES - This is perhaps the premiere conservation organization in Colombia. Started in 1998 by a group of dedicated Colombian conservationists interested in saving the endemic yellow-eared parrot, it has expanded impressively since. Proaves is a private non-profit whose mission is to protect birds and their habitats through research, conservation action, community outreach, and ecotourism. Their 18 reserves protect about 50,000 acres and are home to over 1100 bird species. Of course, these reserves also protect countless plants, mammals, and invertebrates. www.proaves.org or www.rainforesttrust.org.
GRAY HAWK NATURE CENTER - Sandy Anderson, the driving force behind Gray Hawk, is one of our best friends. With a lifelong commitment to conservation and environmental education, Sandy has created an impressive series of nature-based educational activities for children of all ages at her beautiful San Pedro River property. To get in touch with Sandy, go to www.grayhawknaturecenter.org.
SEASONS OF MY HEART - In the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, Susana Trilling has created a culinary school that artfully shares the diverse cultures, flavors, and farming practices of Mesoamerica. The day we spend with Susana and her staff - touring the amazing Mercado Abastos, receiving a lecture on local culture, cuisine, and ethnobotany, and enjoying an unforgettable lunch - is always my favorite day of the trip. Her work and passion are helping to preserve the cultural and ecological diversity being lost in southern Mexico and around the world. In addition to tours and the cooking school, Seasons of my Heart also provides books, visual media, and food products - www.seasonsofmyheart.com.
BENITO HERNANDEZ - I've been fortunate to join Benito on many trips to Oaxaca, my favorite place in Mexico. Though originally a cultural history guide, Benito has become an excellent naturalist and birder. His professional but easy going approach, attention to detail, and positive attitude have made it a pleasure to co-lead with him. He leads tours throughout the state and can be reached at email@example.com or www.discover-oaxaca.com.
DAVID TOMB - My friend and occasional field companion, David Tomb, is a San Francisco based artist who has long been known for his strikingly unique portraits. David has had exhibits of his bird art in the Bay Area, south Texas, Arizona, and west Mexico and has fundraised for several conservation groups including the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve. You can find out more about David and his work at www.davidtomb.com.
EAGLE OPTICS - If you're looking for new optics, check out Eagle Optics at www.eagleoptics.com. Eagle Optics offers an excellent selection of binoculars, scopes, tripods, and accessories for birding and wildlife viewing at great prices and with excellent service. I've been using their equipment for ten years with nothing but great results and outstanding service. EO generously donated a spotting scope to our friends at Cristalino Jungle Lodge and also several binoculars that I've brought to colleagues in Colombia and Ecuador. Mark Pretti Nature Tours trip participants can get a discount with EO - just ask me how.