Langara biology teacher Cameron MacDonald was in the company of marmots and grizzly bears when he went on a trip of a lifetime.
A trip that inspired a book
Three years ago, MacDonald, his wife and two children left on a four-month-long trip across North America in search of various endangered species. When he got back, he wrote a book titled The Endangered Species Road Trip, published in 2013.
MacDonald spoke about his trip during the Metamorphosis lecture series put on by Langara at the Vancouver Public Library on March 12.
MacDonald said he decided to go because he was tired of only seeing pictures of the animals he was teaching about and wanted to have first-hand accounts to tell his students.
“I knew a fair bit about their biology, but I didn’t feel like I knew them well. It was nice to see them in their own habitat to feel comfortable talking about them,” MacDonald said.
His book is written at the level of his first-year students so it is accessible to people who are interested in endangered species but don’t have a lot of background knowledge.
Captive breeding programs key in saving animals
MacDonald and his family travelled to places like Yellowstone National Park to see wolves, and Manitoba to see polar bears.
“The polar bears in Manitoba are in real trouble in the next 50 years,” MacDonald said, mentioning that those bears are closer to the Mexican border than they are to the North Pole.
MacDonald said the major reasons for species disappearing are habitat loss, overharvesting, pollution, climate change and competition from exotic species.
But despite these issues, MacDonald said many endangered species are being saved thanks to careful investigation and captive breeding programs.
“I was way more depressed about these issues 25 years ago than I am now,” he said.
Peggy Harowitz, program coordinator for the Metamorphosis lecture series, said each talk is a “chance to showcase some of the really interesting work research that has gone on at Langara and it’s also a chance to give back to the community.”
Reported by Megan Bobetsis