End of Year Summary: 2016

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Best Wishes for 2017! (Charyn River, Kazakhstan)

Writing-wise, 2016 was a fantastic year for me. By my account I published 22 pieces—that’s about one article every two weeks. A full list is below. I also had an art show, was called the Jane Goodall of Fish Owls, and was on the BBC.

Not sure how I can top this next year….with any luck my fish owl manuscript—a 100,000 word text describing five years of Blakiston’s fish owl fieldwork—will be ready to shop to publishers in the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading in 2016, and see you in 2017!

Books:

Web Articles:

Magazine Articles:

  • Russian Life: a six-page spread in the September/October 2016 issue about Vladimir Arsenyev

Scientific Articles (in print):

  • Ursus: a paper about how gorging on salmon gives brown bears uncontrollable diarrhea, and what they do to mitigate that (Seryodkin, Panichev & Slaght 2016)
  • Bird Conservation International: the culmination of my PhD work: guidelines for conservation of Blakiston’s fish owls in Russia (Slaght & Surmach 2016)
  • Integrative Zoology: a paper evaluating effectiveness of anti-poaching methods in tiger habitat in Russia (Hotte et al 2016)

Scientific Articles (accepted but not yet in print):

  • Slaght, J.C., B. Milakovsky, D. Maksimova, I. Seryodkin, V. Zaitsev, A. Panichev, and D. Miquelle. Habitat selection by Siberian musk deer: anthropogenic influences on the distribution of a Vulnerable coniferous forest specialist. Oryx in press, Nov. 2016
  • Slaght, J.C., D.G. Miquelle, and G. Tukhbatulin. Logging roads and Amur tigers in Russia: demonstrating the threat and proposing solutions. Conference Proceedings. International Conference on the Amur Tiger: Population Status, Problems, and Conservation Prospects. 13-15 December 2015, Institute of Biology and Soil Science, Vladivostok, Russia. In press, Oct. 2016

A Long Walk through Leopard Country

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First signs of autumn in southwest Primorye, Russia. Photograph © Jonathan C. Slaght

My latest from Scientific American:

In 2011 I was asked last minute to give a plenary talk about Amur tigers at a conference in Ussuriisk, Russia. Unfortunately, when I received this request I was twenty kilometers from the closest highway, and the conference was in only a few days.

I was volunteering at the time at an isolated Amur leopard trapping camp in southern Primorye, Russia, where scientists were putting radio collars on a few of these critically-endangered cats to better understand their movements. I was there as an extra pair of legs to hike up and down the steep slopes to reach the trap lines, and as an extra pair of ears to monitor the trap transmitters through the night in case of a midnight capture.

My boss, through the muffled static of a satellite phone, laid out the plan for the talk: I would walk the twenty kilometers to the highway, where a colleague named Andrei would meet me. The closest town to my location, called Nezhino, was small and only had a few stores. Andrei was to meet me at the one right next to the highway. He’d have a USB flash drive containing the presentation and would drive me sixty kilometers to Ussuriisk in time to deliver the talk.

I woke at dawn on the designated day, zipped out of my tent, and hit the trail early. I was tracing the same route I’d followed to reach the leopard camp so it was familiar, but I hesitate to call it a road. Yes, vehicles can travel on it, but it’s not something I would recommend. Napoleon Bonaparte noted that “in Russia, there are no roads: only directions in which one travels,” an 18th century quote apt in this case. The road was a muddy network of intersecting, waterlogged ruts where, if you didn’t know exactly which fork to follow, you were guaranteed to get your car stuck.

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