Ed Clark at “El Festival de las Aves”

Earlier this month, I was invited to participate in “El Festival de las Aves” (The Festival of Birds) in Medellin, Colombia.  The festival is one of the largest celebrations of nature that takes place in Latin America each year.   I shared the story of the Wildlife Center of Virginia, and how the Center uses the care of individual wild animals to gain insights and information about problems facing all wild populations. 

Ed Clark, presenting at “El Festival de las Aves” in Medellin, Colombia.

This trip was very special for me since the Wildlife Center team and I traveled to Colombia frequently during a more than ten-year period, starting in 1999, working on a variety of conservation projects. The Center team offered medical seminars for veterinary students and professionals, training for law enforcement agencies in how to manage wildlife confiscated from illegal trafficking rings, environmental education training for teachers, and direct assistance in the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife.   Most of these projects ended about ten years ago.

For me, the most important and satisfying aspect of this recent trip was the opportunity to meet with many of my former colleagues in Colombia, most of whom I had not seen for more than a decade.  Once we got together again, it did not take long to get the creative juices flowing.  Before the evening was done, the group decided to resurrect the organization through which they had collaborated on so much good work, Fundacion Ecolombia, (Ecolombia Foundation) and bring the old team back together. 

Today, Colombia is no longer held back by the political violence and guerilla warfare that plagued the nation for nearly fifty years.  As Fundacion Ecolombia rises from the ashes, a new generation of conservation projects is about to begin, and the Wildlife Center of Virginia will be an active part of it.  

A view from the Diez Hotel, in the Poblado neighborhood of Medellin, Colombia.

--Ed Clark, president of the Wildlife Center of Virginia