Earth Day: Protecting Endangered Species

Curated by Denis Hayes
Photo by Anjani Kumar, Conservation Photographer (Courtesy of the Fishing Cat Conservancy)

Global

Earth Day is now the world's largest secular holiday, annually engaging more than a billion people in about 180 nations. With a huge presence in schools worldwide, it raises the visibility of a key issue each year. Last year, it helped propel plastics pollution on to political agendas in nations, states, and cities around the planet. This year, the focus is endangered species.

Nonprofits in this fund

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Biological Diversity

General Operating

Tucson AZ 85702-071 US

Starting from a small base, the Center has grown into a formidable, uncompromising advocate for the natural world. It produces insightful reports on sometimes-obscure threats. It has an activist network that responds fulsomely to calls to hold public officials to account. And it has been involved in almost every recent lawsuit to protect threatened or endangered species and the biomes in which they flourish.

Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington

Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington

Conservation Biology

Professor Sam Wasser, director of the Center, is a global leader using non-invasive tools to monitor human impacts on wildlife. His most publicized work is training dogs to find feces (scat) of wildlife rapidly and over large, remote areas. Laboratory analysis of the feces provides genetic, physiological toxicological, and dietary information. The Center used elephant dung to correlate herds with the genetic of poached ivory to locate and police poaching hotspots in Africa. “Conservation canines” have monitored the impacts of oil exploration on caribou, moose, and wolves, and have been used to study everything from Northern Spotted Owls to giant anteaters. The dogs have even been trained to sniff the scat of Southern Resident Orcas (so-called killer whales) from the prow of a boat.

Earth Day Network

Earth Day Network

General Operating

Washington DC 20036 US

Earth Day is now the world's largest secular holiday, annually engaging more than a billion people in about 180 nations. With a huge presence in schools worldwide, it raises the visibility of a key issue each year. Last year, it helped propel plastics pollution on to political agendas in nations, states, and cities around the planet. This year, the focus is endangered species.

Disclosure: Denis Hayes is the Founder & Chair Emeritus

Environmental Investigation Agency

Environmental Investigation Agency

General Operating

Washington DC 20009 US

This 30-year-old global organization with a hard-to-remember name focuses its endangered species work on the so-called charismatic megafauna, such as, elephants, rhinos, and whales. Like many groups, it produces reports about the rapacious destruction of ecosystems in order to create pressure for protection. But its unique role is in undercover investigations into criminal enterprises that trade in endangered species and illegally-harvested logs from threatened ecosystems. Some of its exploits sound like the stuff of Indiana Jones.

Wild Love Preserve

Wild Love Preserve

General Operating

Kingston WA 98346 US

Artist Andrea Maki fell in love with the wild mustangs of the central Idaho high desert and has worked tirelessly since then for their protection. Her vision includes, in addition to wild horse conservation, formal programs in conflict resolution, public education, range health. The crown jewell is a 10,000-acre wildlife preserve in the heart of Idaho's wild horse country, an area teeming with indigenous wildlife that will serve as permanent home to the 136 Challis-Idaho wild horses under her protection and future threatened Idaho wild horses.

Denis Hayes's giving strategy

First, I give on the basis of the individual who will be responsible for the work. Of course, many goals will require the involvement of motivated teams, coalitions, or movements. But in the end, I want to know that there is an identifiable individual whom I’m confident will go over, under, around, or through any obstacles to succeed. I’m pretty patient — I don’t demand victory in a month or a year or a decade. But I want to see progress combined with a nimble, credible strategy for success.

Second, I’m particularly interested in campaigns where failure would lead to significant, irreversible harm.

Third, while my giving tends to concentrate heavily on environmental issues, it is all made with sensitivity to social justice and digital privacy. The canyon that has between the very rich and the destitute—where six families control more wealth than the poorest half of humanity—requires that the chasm be bridged.

Fourth, I’m confident that the digital revolution is a genuine revolution, akin to the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution, and I try hard to anticipate a few moves ahead on the chessboard with any grant that has a digital dimension. (Perhaps because I’m now a geezer, I still place a very high value on privacy.)

Finally, I favor outcomes that either rely directly upon natural ecosystems or are grounded in ecological principles — whether industrial ecology, urban ecology, human ecology . . . . The earth has been beta testing solutions to myriad problems for a couple billion years. During that time, it has weeded out many failures. We humans would be stupid not to learn from that experience.

About Denis Hayes

Environmental Advocate & philanthropist. Formerly national organizer of 1st Earth Day; Director of National Renewable Energy Laboratory; engineering professor at Stanford; Silicon Valley lawyer; Special Assistant to Illinois Governor for Energy, Environment; & Natural Resources; Senior Fellow at Worldwatch Institute; Visiting Scholar at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Bosh Foundation, & at Bellagio Center; Regents Professor of Energy & Natural Resources at University of California at Santa Cruz.

27 years of grantmaking experience

Experience at Bullitt Foundation

More about Denis Hayes