An A—Z of Long Run Species to Celebrate Biodiversity Day 2021
This year, on 22nd May, International Day of Biodiversity celebrates the theme ‘We’re part of the solution for nature’.
It’s a neat follow-up from last year, which examined how ‘our solutions are in nature’. We’ve exploited a one-way relationship with natural resources for too long, repeatedly drawing from them, plucking, fishing, razing, grazing, burning, digging into the Anthropocene; a new geological age defined by human’s devastating impact on the natural world.
Now, with the climate and biodiversity crisis in full swing, we’re stepping back and recognising the urgent need for systemic change. Change that doesn’t hinder health, prosperity, or development but heightens progress makes it fairer and more resilient. We need to re-join the ecosystem and work with nature before it’s too late.
This mission has guided The Long Run’s work since 2009, when Jochen Zeitz, owner of Segera in Kenya, contacted conservationists from all over the world to establish a blueprint to protect wilderness in perpetuity. Today that blueprint is The 4Cs framework — a holistic balance of Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce that is central to our members’ operations.
The 4Cs allows business to be a force for good and provides the income and economic incentive needed to protect fragile ecosystems in the long term. For most of our members, low-impact, purposeful hospitality and tourism is one element of this income alongside regenerative farming and community enterprise.
To qualify to become part of The Long Run, each member must own or influence a significant ecosystem — not necessarily large but vital to biodiversity and the natural environment. That’s why travelling with a Long Run member is one of the best ways to ensure a positive impact. Collectively, our members:
- Conserve, regenerate and protect over 23.5-million-acres of nature
- Safeguard 480 endangered plant and animal species
- 82% create wildlife corridors or increase habitat connectivity by working with neighbouring landowners
- 69% create a vital buffer zone for a National Park System, Biosphere Reserve or World Heritage Site
To celebrate World Biodiversity Day, we’ve compiled an A—Z of species members safeguard for a more sustainable future. We’ve included a snapshot of the ecosystem each depends on, which is as important as the species itself. Our environment is an interconnected web, and biodiversity runs through every single strand.
Aardvark — Samara Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Meaning ‘earth pig’ in Afrikaans, the aardvark is a nocturnal mammal that lives south of the Sahara with rabbit ears, a kangaroo tail, and a pig-like snout. Underground burrows keep them cool during the day, and the night is spent digging for termites (they eat up to 80,000 per day) with long claws. Like pigs, this rootling action helps regenerate topsoil, creating conditions for a greater variety of flora to thrive.
Although not endangered, populations of aardvark in Africa seem to be dwindling due to urbanisation. Long Run member Samara has a healthy population of aardvarks, employing a graduate from the Tracker Academy to study their ecology and inviting guests on nighttime aardvark safaris.
Black rhino — Borana Lodge and Conservancy, Kenya
Black rhinos are the smaller of the two African rhino species and distinguishable by a hooked upper lip used for browsing from branches rather than grazing in the mud. Between 1960 and 1990, black rhino populations shrunk by 98% due to European hunters and settlers. The situation since then has improved, thanks to substantial conservation efforts and highly trained rangers to keep poaching at bay.
Borana Conservancy is one of Africa’s newest rhino habitats and its most successful. Since removing fences with the neighbouring Lewa Conservancy, this 92,000-acre landscape now holds 12% of Kenya’s black rhinos (14% of white rhinos). There are three Long Run members on the conservancy, where income from tourism and conservation fees directly fund the protection of rhinos; Borana Lodge, Lengishu, and Arijiju.
Coconut crab — Chumbe Island, Tanzania
Growing up to 60cm long, the coconut crab is the world’s largest crustacean but, despite its epic proportions, is on the ICUN red list with no plans to curb its extinction. They are nocturnal scavengers and will happily pick through compost or enjoy fallen coconuts. Incredibly slow-moving, the crabs often fall victim to hunting or are used as bait in fish traps.
One of the best places to catch a glimpse of these giants is Long Run member Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd (CHICOP), a private company with not-for-profit objectives that have turned small Chumbe Island into a fully protected marine and terrestrial nature reserve. Until 2020, management costs and various research and local education programs were fully supported by proceeds from the ecolodge.
Desert adapted elephant — Wolwedans, Namibia
It’s hard to believe that elephants can survive in the vast Namib Desert, an ecosystem dictated by low rainfall and intense heat. Incredibly, desert-adapted elephants are not a species in their own right, but African elephants adapted to the harsh conditions. Larger footpads deal with the sandy terrain, trunks and legs dig wells in dry riverbeds, and smaller herds reduce feeding and drinking needs.
One of the best places to see these ancient creatures is Wolwedans’ 425,000-acre reserve. Long Run founding member and Global Ecosphere Retreat Wolwedans uses tourism levies and fees to safeguard and restore the Pro-Namib ecosystem. As the principal concessionaire, Wolwedans has contributed more than $1.5 million towards the conservation of NamibRand Nature Reserve.
Erythrocebus patas (Patas monkey) — Segera, Kenya
The near-threatened patas monkey is ground-dwelling in increasingly scarce semi-arid ecosystems throughout West and East Africa. Patas monkeys cover up to 12 km (7.5 miles) a day, foraging flowers, tree gum, seeds and insects. Each monkey sleeps in a separate tree, and they will not sleep in the same area for more than two days. Patas are the fastest primates, reaching top speeds of around 56 km/h (35 mph). When they sense danger, they often prefer running away across the ground to climbing trees, in contrast to many other primate species.
In 2015, Long Run founding member Segera launched a project to help protect the endangered monkey, recognising that its abundance of whistling thorn trees created the perfect habitat. Guests are invited to join patas monkey foot patrols to monitor the troops’ movement and provide additional security.
Poison Dart Frog — Amazon Yarapa River Lodge, Peru
While other frogs rely on camouflage to disguise from predators, the poison dart frog uses its bright colours to warn others that it’s not for eating — its skin secretes a deadly poison. There are over 100 species of poison dart frogs, and many of them live in what’s remaining of the world’s pristine forests (along with 80% of earth’s terrestrial biodiversity), including the Amazon.
One of those places is the Amazon Yarapa River Lodge overlooking an untouched Peruvian tributary of the Amazon River. Recognising the fragile and complex nature of the ecosystem surrounding the lodge, Yarapa has worked closely with neighbouring indigenous groups to develop the Yarapa River Rainforest Reserve, protecting 120,000 acres of undeveloped rainforest.
Giraffe — Kicheche Mara Camp, Kenya
So familiar are these long-necked graceful treetop grazers that we’ve been slow to recognise that giraffes are going through a conservation crisis. The population has declined by 40% in the last three decades due to habitat loss, hunting, and human-wildlife conflict. The ICUN now lists the species as Vulnerable.
Several of our Kenyan Long Run members support giraffe populations through their 4C commitment. One of those is Kicheche Mara Camp, located in the Mara North Conservancy, a stunning private wilderness area of more than 74,000 acres of community-owned conservation land. It is a vital part of the Maasai Mara ecosystem as it forms the northeastern zone, bordering the Maasai Mara National Reserve.
Huemul — Huilo Huilo, Chile
The huemul, which appears on the Chilean national coat of arms along with the Andean condor, has a total population of less than 1,500, concentrated in the southern reaches of Chile and Argentina. Due to hunting and a change in land use, the animal is now endangered.
Long Run member Huilo Huilo, a 240,000-acre chunk of Patagonian rainforest under the Chilean Andes, is one of a handful of sites breeding and reintroducing huemul in the forested landscape. A volcano and river protect huemul from poachers and predators like a puma in a quiet corner of the privately protected area. Here the Patagonian Huemul Conservation Center research and releases huemul into the wild while educating the local area about the importance of protecting them.
Irrawaddy dolphin — Nikoi, Indonesia
These bulge-headed short-beaked expressive dolphins live in coastal areas around South East Asia and the Mekong River. Unlike other dolphins, they are allusive and slow swimmers, so avoid boats, although they have been known to cooperatively work with fishers by herding fish towards nets and picking off those stranded around the edges. Unfortunately, the species is under threat from entanglement, bycatch, plastic pollution and capture for captivity.
Cempedak Private Island and Nikoi Island are located within a Marine Protected Area (MPA) of 1.2 million-hectares that provides an increasingly safe haven for species like the Irrawaddy. The owners of Nikoi and Cempedak have put an enormous effort into surveying the area and developing a management plan, including working with local communities, to see this critical maritime area is better protected.
Jaguar — Caiman Ecolodge, Brazil
The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas and thrives in large undisturbed chunks of forest; you could once find jaguars all the way down south-western USA to Argentina. Sadly its habitat has drastically shrunk, and it now relies on the Amazon basin and the Pantanal. As an apex predator at the top of the food chain, the jaguar’s survival is vital for the long-term health of rainforests — it keeps the ecosystem balanced.
One of the best places in the world to see jaguar is Caiman Ecolodge in Brazil. Its Private Reserve of Natural Patrimony (RPPN) is a 13,000-acre area supporting research and species management projects. Important conservation projects focus on the stunning blue hyacinth macaws and the elusive jaguar. Caiman’s jaguar habituation project in partnership with Onçafari is unique in South America and offers visitors an opportunity to track jaguars in an Africa style jeep safari.
Kiwi — Tahi, New Zealand
The kiwi, a small, flightless bird endemic to New Zealand, is the nation’s most iconic species. It’s hardly surprising given its melodic call echoing throughout the native forest and curious, Jurassic-like walk, unlike any other bird. Like many New Zealand birds and mammals, it’s fallen victim to pests and over-grazing introduced by settlers. In the 1990s, there were a mere 200 left.
Thanks to conservation efforts like that of Long Run member Tahi, the kiwi’s future looks brighter. Over more than a decade of restoration work on a dilapidated cattle farm, Tahi has planted 280,00 indigenous trees and restored 14 wetlands. Consequently, 70 native birds have returned.
Cape Leopard — Grootbos, South Africa
The Cape Leopard is one of the world’s most elusive mammals, rarely seen despite surviving in a relatively small region, in the scrubby and rugged fynbos biome in South Africa’s Western Cape. Many conservationists believe they have only survived despite encroaching urbanisation and farming due to their highly adaptive nature.
Camera traps have captured several Cape Leopard sightings in and around Long Run Global Ecosphere Retreat, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, thanks to its collaborative efforts with local landowners. In 1999, 11 landowners created the Walker Bay Fynbos Conservancy, which is now a 20,000-hectare landscape and 35 landowners strong. The subsequent Cape Floral Kingdom is one of a kind, providing habitat for the likes of the Cape Leopard alongside 9,500 plant species.
Maned wolf — Pousada Trijuncao, Brazil
Maned wolves are distinctive in their leggy appearance, reddish-brown fur and long mane, standing erect when close to danger. They roam grasslands and scrub throughout Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Peru and play an essential part in the grassland ecosystem by keeping rodents and other small mammal numbers in check. Agriculture and farming encroachment on grasslands is the biggest threat to the species, whose numbers are dwindling.
To help secure more wilderness for maned wolves, Long Run member Pousada Trijunção, part of an 81,544-acre conservationist farm, Fazenda Trijunção, in the Brazilian Cerrado, is working with Projeto Onçafari to establish a ground-breaking maned wolf monitoring and conservation project. Guests can take part in conservation efforts by heading out on a tracking expedition.
North Andean deer — Estancia Pampa Grande, Argentina
Taruca, or North Andean deer, is native to South America with a wide range across the Andes and surrounding lowlands; they like to live in the Alpine habitat band between the tree and snow lines. Populations are under threat due to over-hunting and changing land use.
Two of our members are busy creating protected areas to support the North Andean deer and other endemic species like the panda and ocelot. Condor Valley is a 70,000-acre wild, biodiverse landscape in Salta, Northwest Argentina, and Estancia Pampa Grande is a 74,000-acre privately protected area in an untouched valley on the ancient Inca trail south. Both have enjoyed frequent sightings of the taruca.
Short-clawed otter — Cempedak, Indonesia
The Asian short-clawed otter can live in a host of landscapes from forests to wetlands, coastal regions and mangroves. Although sturdy and adaptable to a host of environments, the smallest of the 13 otter species is at risk from shrinking habitats (often due to urban sprawl), drying up waterways due to climate change, and a prolific fur and pet trade.
Creating a haven for such creatures is vitally important, and tourism can play a role. Long Run member Cempedak is a 17-hectare island in the South China Sea, just 12km off the coast of Bintan. Although small, the island’s virgin rainforest and protected coral reef create the perfect conditions for the short-clawed otter to raise offspring alongside other endangered species like a pangolin.
Pangolin — Tswalu, South Africa
These intriguing mammals are the only animals wholly covered in scales. If threatened, they curl into a ball of hard scales and use their sharp tails to defend themselves. Once numerous throughout Asia and Africa, the pangolin is now the world’s most trafficked animal. Its meat is considered a delicacy, and the scales are used in traditional medicines in China and Vietnam.
While governments worldwide work more closely to protect pangolins, our members fund rangers to deter poachers and commission research to understand their behaviour and role within ecosystems. At Twsalu, for example, Wendy Panaino has conducted a five-year study to understand the impact of climate change in the Kalahari on pangolins.
Double-spotted queenfish — Misool Ecolodge, Indonesia
Growing up to 110 cm, the double-spotted queenfish doesn’t wow the imagination with vibrant colours or fancy frills. However, larger fish like this play an essential role in the health of a coral reef and the broader marine ecosystem.
Schools of queenfish are often seen hunting anchovies in Misool’s house reef. The Misool Private Marine Reserve is a protected area that consists of two No-Take Zones inside which all fishing and extractive practices are banned. The reserve was created in cooperation with the local community and designed to bring conservation benefits to the ecosystem while maintaining healthy fish stocks. Tucked away on one of the reserve’s multiple islands is Misool Resort, which helps to fund the conservation efforts of its sister non-profit organisation, Misool Foundation.
Red squirrel — Corrour Estate, Scotland
These bushy, pointy-eared squirrels, native to the UK and Europe, suffered hugely from the influx of eastern grey squirrels from North America many years ago. Thanks to conservation efforts, the population is now stabling in Scotland. This is partly due to the reintroduction of pine martens, which are predators of grey squirrels, acting as natural pest control.
More and more places in the UK are making concerted efforts to protect and reintroduce red squirrels. One of those places is Long Run member Corrour, a 57,000-acre highland estate on the edge of Rannoch Moor. To encourage wilderness to return to the estate, Corrour carefully manages deer numbers — too many deer decimate the ecosystem because they chomp through low-lying scrub, grass and saplings. This has a knock-on effect of creating a habitat better suited to species like the red squirrel.
Central American squirrel monkey — Lapa Rios, Costa Rica
This small monkey has an orange back and a distinctive white and black facial mask. The species lives in a small biome: The Pacific coast of Costa Rica and the northwestern tip of Panama. Deforestation and the pet trade have led to a decline in numbers, and the ICUN lists the species as endangered.
One of the few remaining protected areas where the Central American squirrel monkey can thrive is Lapa Rios, an ecolodge and 1,000-acre reserve with the motto ‘a tree is worth more standing than cut down’. Situated just above the point where the Golfo Dulce meets the wild Pacific Ocean, the Osa Peninsula is one of Central America’s last remaining lowland tropical rainforests. It contains 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity.
Sea turtle — Batu Batu, Malaysia
Sea turtles have migrated across oceans for more than 100 million years, playing a pivotal role in our ocean’s finely balanced ecosystem. Still, most species are endangered due to poaching, plastic and fishing pollution, and climate change. There are seven different sea turtle species, and our marine-based members work hard to protect some of the most vulnerable.
At Batu Batu in Malaysia, the Tengah Island Conservation foundation is dedicated to the research, rehabilitation, and regeneration of the archipelago’s natural environment, including a hatchery, surveys, and local education on the Green and Hawksbill turtles.
Unau (two-toed sloth in Brazilian) — Pacuare Lodge, Costa Rica
The two-toed sloth is one of the world’s slowest moving creatures; it’s so sedentary that algae grows on its thick fur. Dependent on the rainforest and treetops of Central and South America, where it spends up to 20 hours a day sleeping, some species are endangered. This is primarily due to rainforest destruction and clearance, which makes the sloths more vulnerable to predators.
Pacuare Lodge uses money from tourism to support the local communities in protecting over 840-acres of primary rainforest on the pristine Pacuare River banks — 100% of employees come from the local area. Via partnerships with Costa Rican universities, Pacuare have reintroduced howler monkeys and surveyed jaguar, providing more incentive to protect the rainforest that the unau depends on.
Vultures — Cottar’s 1920s Camp, Kenya
In just 30 years, more than half of vultures in Kenya’s Maasai Mara have disappeared due to human-wildlife conflict (poisoning — often targeting mammals that the vultures then eat) and the wildlife trade (body parts used for medicine). Seven of 11 species are now critically endangered or endangered. This is worrying for Mara’s fragile ecosystem in which vultures play an essential part, gobbling up the flesh of dead animals reducing the spread of diseases like tuberculosis.
Cottar’s Wildlife Conservation Trust safeguards six different vulture species on its 7000-acre Olderkesi Conservancy, including the Egyptian, white-backed and hooded vulture. The white-backed is critically endangered. As part of a new experiences programme, guests staying at Cottar’s 1920s Camp are invited to spend time with the Kenya Birds of Prey Trust to learn more about these often-overlooked creatures.
Wild dogs — House in the Wild, Kenya
Social pack animals with unfathomable stamina, these canines rely on vast landscapes of interconnected deserts, forests and grasslands to hunt and carve up territories. Wild dogs used to range a terrain that crossed 39 countries. Sadly, it’s, therefore, no surprise that they are one of the world’s most endangered mammals. Like other large carnivores, like lions and cheetahs, wild dogs play a critical role in controlling ungulate species like impala and gazelles that overfeed on low-lying shrubs and trees. Over time, this can completely alter an ecosystem, killing off hundreds of other species like birds and insects and making the landscape less able to deal with extreme weather events like flooding.
Our Long Run members in Kenya all play a crucial role in ensuring the survival of wild dogs by working with neighbouring national parks and communities to create wildlife corridors and expand protected areas. For example, at House in the Wild’s 1000-acre Enonkishu Conservancy, conservation fees are handed to the local landowning community providing an economic incentive to protect wild dogs alongside lions and leopard.
Xerus (African ground squirrel) — Bergplass Nature Reserve, South Africa
The African ground squirrel uses its big, bushy tail to shade itself from the hot South African sun and digs burrows deep underground. They’re very much not extinct and easy to spot throughout our southern African members but they’re preferred ecosystems, grasslands and woodlands, are under threat from human activity like farming, mining, and urban sprawl. Xerus eat anything from eggs to nuts and seeds and are prey for snakes and jackals, playing their part in the food chain.
Xerus are frequently seen in the wilds of Bergplaas Nature Reserve, which offers environmental learning experiences for people from all walks of life. The 5000-hectare proclaimed nature reserve in the Nieu Bethesda and Graaff-Reinet region of the Great Karoo is renowned for its rugged beauty and sense of space. Bergplaas hosts two extraordinary wildlife and environment programmes on the reserve, focusing on a spiritual connection to the land.
Yellow-footed rock-wallaby — Arkaba, Australia
Like so many of Australia’s indigenous species, the yellow-footed rock-wallaby was once found throughout South Australia, but numbers drastically reduced following European settlers carving up land for sheep farming and introducing non-native pests. The Australia Wildlife Conservancy now believes there’s only 2,000 left, restricted to areas carefully managed to eradicate threats like foxes, cats and goats.
One of these areas is Long Run member Arkaba (which means land of abundance in the local indigenous dialect), a 60,000-acre privately protected area within the spectacular Flinders Range. By eradicating pests and reversing the detrimental effects of livestock-grazing, Arakaba has welcomed back native species like the yellow-footed rock-wallaby alongside 1,200 plant species and 300 bird species.
Grevy’s zebra — The Safari Collection’s Sasaab, Kenya
The Grevy’s zebra is one of Africa’s most endangered large mammals and is the rarest of Africa’s three different zebra species. They’re taller and have narrower stripes than other zebras with large conical ears. Arid habitat adapted; they can go for five days with no water. Grevy’s are victims of habitat loss due to unsustainable land use and have undergone the most substantial reduction in their rangelands of any African mammal.
The grasslands surrounding Sasaab hold one of the largest remaining populations of this once prolific grazer that is now restricted to parts of Ethiopia and North Kenya. Their survival is critical for the unique ecosystem, which depends on grazers to disperse seeds. The Grevy’s Zebra Trust is headquartered close to the Westgate Community Conservancy, supported by Sasaab in partnership with the Samburu community.
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