What are wildlife corridors?

The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens has supported ocelot conservation programs at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in South Texas.

Did you know that most parks and protected natural areas are not able to adequately protect wildlife?  In many of these “islands” of habitat wildlife are trapped and cannot replenish themselves with others of their own kind.  The problem is the same around the world.  Wildlife corridors that connect habitats have been completely developed or severely fragmented.

Today conservationists are working to protect habitats by focusing on wildlife corridors.  Many species of wildlife, including migratory birds, need to be able travel from one part of their habitat to the next if they are going to find food, water and mates.   When roads and other developments disrupt or destroy wildlife habitat, more often than not wildlife corridors are affected. When this happens the chances of survival for many species diminishes greatly.  

Most of the world’s population lives in cities and people living in cities need be able to connect with nature.  These connections are important to a city’s quality of life and in educating citizens on the value of nature. Every city wanting to protect wildlife living in undeveloped areas and protected parks needs a conservation plan that focuses on protecting habitats and wildlife corridors connecting those habitats.  The City of Albuquerque, New Mexico is a good example of a community taking important conservation actions by establishing a Parks and Recreation Department Open Space Division.

Here in El Paso a handful of environmental groups collaborating with government officials are helping to protect wildlife habitat and remaining corridors between those habitats, but much more needs to be done to ensure the future of the natural world that surrounds us and the city’s quality of life.  One important conservation organization making a difference is Frontera Land Alliance.  The vision of this group is facilitating “a shared community commitment to protecting, now, our open spaces for future generations.  The Frontera Land Alliance protects—forever—natural areas, working farms and ranches, water and wildlife in the West Texas and southern New Mexico region of the Chihuahuan Desert.”  

Other organizations like Conservation International and the World Wildlife Fund are working around the world in support of hundreds of corridors and connectivity projects.  The El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens is supporting a number of projects including efforts to help Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico, ocelots in south Texas, Asian elephants on the island of Sumatra and Amur leopards in Russia.  Locally we provided a trail camera for an underground wildlife underpass built by TX Dot on Loop 375 at Franklin Mountains State Park.  

To learn more about protecting wildlife corridors in the US and on the international level there are resources online you can review including a number of videos on YouTube.

Top: US Fish and Wildlife Service
Cover: US Fish and Wildlife Service

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