If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to document it, does it really matter? An unusual new conservation partnership of pilots and photographers emphatically says "yes", and is prepared to do something about it.
Lighthawk, an organization of skilled pilots who volunteer their flights for conservation, provides the aerial platform. The International League of Conservation, consisting of many of the world's top nature photographers, provides the images. Together, their partnership is a game changer for conservation throughout much of North and Central America.
These two non-profits enlist skilled pilots and photographers who passionately volunteer their skills for the protection of wild nature. They both work with conservation groups, leading scientists, policy makers, government leaders and those charged with the protection of our planet, yet neither is a political organization. Their work centers on fueling the conservation efforts of their partners through a new initiative they call Tripods in the Sky.
Recently, LightHawk and iLCP took to the air over the Yucatan Peninsula in southeast Mexico for their first Tripods in the Sky flight. David Cole, a pilot with LightHawk and Eduardo Galicia, a Mexican scientist working on aerial flamingo surveys for two Mexican organizations, Niños y Crias and Pronatura Yucatan , were joined by German photographer, Klaus Nigge, a Fellow of the iLCP and a contributing photographer for National Geographic Magazine. A year ago Klaus met Eduardo during an iLCP RAVE, a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition, in which both iLCP and LightHawk helped create a photographic snapshot of this region to call attention to the rapid development from tourism, agriculture and human growth. The Tripods in the Sky mission allowed Eduardo to get very important scientific information about flamingo distribution during this time of the year. In addition, Klaus was able to take great aerial pictures of the birds and the coastal wetlands where they live.
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The information obtained during this first Tripods in the Sky flight will complement the scientific surveys, and will assist Pronatura's efforts to promote sustainable tourism and protect the coastal wetlands of the states of Campeche and Yucatan. Through Tripods in the Sky, one pilot and one photographer are helping conserve this key species of the Yucatan Peninsula and its home.