Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tucson Researcher, Photographer Documentary Project

Posted By on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Namibian Caracals are being eradicated for lack of awareness.
  • ALETRIS NEILS
  • Namibian Caracals are being eradicated for lack of awareness.

Aletris Neils, a burgeoning researcher in mammalian conservation and PhD student at the University of Arizona, has been working in southern Namibia, South Africa, for the last several years to raise awareness for the Namibian Caracal. The caracal, a medium-sized predatory cat, are being killed by farmers and ranchers who fear for their livestock.

However, it is a misconception that holds a dire consequence when the cats, apex predators in their ecosystem, are completely eradicated.

The cats are being killed on sight.
  • Courtesy of ALETRIS NEILS
  • The caracals are diet-specific animals that can be trained not to prey on livestock. Once they are steered away from the livestock, one adult caracal on the property can prevent other predatory cats from thriving off of the territory.

    Neils is trying to raise this awareness among the ranchers and farm owners. She has had a small measure of success.The cats are being killed on sight.

In March, award-winning video and photojournalist Joshua Morgan, a regular contributor for the Tucson Weekly, will be going to southern Namibia to begin working on a documentary that will further raise awareness of these cats. Morgan, who has covered Jan. 8 Shootings, the Arizona Wildfires and the ongoing border debate in Southern Arizona, will document Neils' work and attempt to raise the conversation to a main-stream level. Morgan, a recent graduate of The New York Times Student Journalism Institute, is also contracted as a stringer for The New York Times.

The ranchers and farmers are not the villains. They are just another part of the complex discussion that is needing to happen in this entire conflict.

BUT they need your help.

Morgan has a kickstarter for the project here. The project is nearly halfway to their goal. Please take the time to help spread the word or support the project. Any support you can provide would be greatly appreciated and recognized.

Aletris Neils holds one of her collared Namibian Caracals. This cat was later shot and killed after it was seen crossing through another ranch. This cat was not preying on livestock.
  • Courtesy of ALETRIS NEILS
  • Aletris Neils holds one of her collared Namibian Caracals. This cat was later shot and killed after it was seen crossing through another ranch. This cat was not preying on livestock.

John de Dios will be a producer and editor for the project.

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