I just love eastern box turtles! as one of the most terrestrial turtles in the eastern us, these beautiful critters spend almost no time in the water. you can easily find them in many habitat types, especially during the spring months when breeding season is under way. however, the increased mobility of searching for mates and nesting sites can be problematic, as it often results in a lot of turtles getting hit by cars 😞.
turtles of any species (and all wildlife in general) must move between different types of habitats to meet their resource needs, yet much of these spaces are dissected by roads. even a low-traffic county road sees significant wildlife mortality. what’s worse, turtles that are hit sometimes do not die immediately due to their fascinatingly strong shells, making their end long and painful. while this is really sad, i think it’s important that we understand the impacts we have on wildlife. conservation requires assessing our own actions, acknowledging the problem, and having the knowledge and empathy to make a difference.
that being said, i want to end on a more positive note. here are 3 things to help you help turtles:
1️⃣ male box turtles develop red eyes during the breeding season. this actually has nothing to do with saving them, but it’s cool and now you know. these pretty eyes can’t, however, see your car, so you gotta look out for them to safely avoid them when possible!
2️⃣ there are many species of turtle you can legally pick up, which means that if you are able, stopping to move a turtle to the other side of the road is always a good idea! you’ll be a hero in my book, and you’ll help them create the next generations🐢. however, never risk your own safety.
3️⃣ always move the critter in the direction it is going! barring there’s a cliff or a median on the highway, our decision will literally always be wrong and the turtle will just go back out into the road anyway. they’re stubborn like that 😊. so, help them get where they’re going, like mark did with this lovely eastern box turtle, and feel good about your good deed ❤️.
what are some of the good deeds you do for nature?
Pineland croton with bartrams scrub hairsteak and florida leafwing butterflies, watercolor 15"x15". (i think this is the most pine rocklandy thing i've ever made.) these butterflies are icons of that habitat, and are endangered! (fl leafwing is super endangered) the croton was painted with references i took on the field trip to the recently burned navy wells site with the dade florida native plant society. the plants there were growing out of solid rock! (hence the rock) i mean, i knew that plants were growing from rock in the pine rocklands but i've only seen it when it's a little more grassy and not as obvious. they were happy little plants growing out of rocks. .
these two butterfly species host in the pineland croton plant. i was told that they prefer the plant in a recently burned area, because the leaves are fuller and more tender there (please correct me if i'm wrong. i'm also looking for the original photographer of the fl leafwing that i used as a reference, does anybody know who that is?)
the pine rocklands are a globally imperiled habitat type only found in south florida and some parts of the bahamas and cuba, with less than 2% remaining! check out the miami pine rocklands coalition to get involved, or sign up for my zine to get art and info (link in bio) #saveitdontpaveit#florida#conservation#miami#watercolor#botanicalillustration#butterflyart#floridawildlife#pinerocklands#leafwings#hairstreaks@southfloridacreatives@fl_native_plants
Orangutan | kinabatangan wildlife sanctuary, sabah, malaysia 2015⠀
i've been going through old field albums and, while they all elicit powerful emotions, i'm not sure i miss a place more than i miss borneo. there's something about being constantly surrounded by so much wildlife, some of which is deadly, that makes me feel alive. it was so hot would literally sweat my pants off, there were more biting bugs and flies and mosquitos than the worst day in maryland, the work was excruciatingly exhausting, and i got so sick i pooped myself twice, but it was amazing and i would go back in a heartbeat.⠀
during my time in borneo, i was able to work with a few different conservation groups, including but not limited to, the kinabatangan orangutan conservation project (kocp). the most surprising moment in my research came from discovering the benefits of palm plantations. as many eco-friendly folks know, palm oil isn't good -- right? well, that's not entirely true. palm oil is an easily harvested, environmentally friendly crop that grows quickly and cleanly *when done sustainably*. the problem comes from uneducated farmers. when farmers make a lot of money each harvest, but don't know sustainable ways to grow/harvest their crops, the results can prove catastrophic. but through education groups, like the kocp, farmers are learning ethical and environmentally-friendly methods to use on their farms. they learn proper plant care (minimizing/eliminating fertilization), how to use sound deterrents (like boom cannons) to scare away wildlife, alternatives to crop burning, and fiscal responsibility. palm oil isn't bad as long as it's acquired safely. make sure that anything you have that has palm oil in it is roundtable on sustainable palm oil (rspo) certified. rspo has the strongest set of requirements of all palm oil certifications.⠀