Friday, March 20, 2020

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge The National Wildlife Refuge Service is the worlds largest collection of protected areas dedicated to wildlife preservation, more than 150 million acres of strategically located wildlife habitat protecting thousands of species. There are wildlife refuges in all 50 states and U.S. territories, and most major U.S. cities are no more than an hours drive from at least one wildlife refuge. But how did this system of wildlife preservation begin? What was Americas first national wildlife refuge? President Theodore Roosevelt created the first U.S. national wildlife refuge on March 14, 1903, when he set aside Pelican Island as a sanctuary and breeding ground for native birds. Location of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Indian River Lagoon, on the Atlantic coast of central Florida. The nearest town is Sebastian, which lies just west of the refuge. Originally, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge included only 3-acre Pelican Island and another 2.5 acres of surrounding water. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge was expanded twice, in 1968 and again in 1970, and today comprises 5,413 acres of mangrove islands, other submerged land, and waterways. Pelican Island is an historic bird rookery that provides nesting habitat for at least 16 species of colonial water birds as well as the endangered wood stork. More than 30 species of water birds use the island during the winter migratory season, and more than 130 bird species are found throughout the entire Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge also provides critical habitat for several threatened and endangered species, including manatees, loggerhead and green sea turtles, and southeastern beach mice. Early History of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge During the 19th century, plume hunters, egg gatherers and common vandals exterminated all the egrets, herons and spoonbills on Pelican Island, and nearly destroyed the population of brown pelicans for which the island is named. By the late 1800s, the market for bird feathers to supply the fashion industry and adorn ladies hats was so lucrative that plume feathers were worth more than gold, and birds with fine plumage were being slaughtered wholesale. The Guardian of Pelican Island Paul Kroegel, a German immigrant and boat builder, established a homestead on the west bank of the Indian River Lagoon. From his home, Kroegel could see thousands of brown pelicans and other water birds roosting and nesting on Pelican Island. There were no state or federal laws at that time to protect the birds, but Kroegel started sailing to Pelican Island, gun in hand, to stand guard against plume hunters and other intruders. Many naturalists became interested in Pelican Island, which was the last rookery for brown pelicans on the east coast of Florida. They also took a growing interest in the work Kroegel was doing to protect the birds. One of the most influential naturalists who visited Pelican Island and sought out Kroegel was Frank Chapman, curator of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and a member of the American Ornithologists Union. After his visit, Chapman vowed to find some way to protect the birds of Pelican Island. In 1901, the American Ornithologists Union and the Florida Audubon Society led a successful campaign for a Florida state law that would protect non-game birds. Kroegel was one of four wardens hired by the Florida Audubon Society to protect water birds from plume hunters. It was dangerous work. Two of those first four wardens were murdered in the line of duty. Securing Federal Protection for the Birds of Pelican Island Frank Chapman and another bird advocate named William Dutcher were acquainted with Theodore Roosevelt, who had taken office as President of the United States in 1901. The two men visited Roosevelt at his family home in Sagamore Hill, New York, and appealed to him as a conservationist to use the power of his office to protect the birds of Pelican Island. It didnt take much to convince Roosevelt to sign an executive order naming Pelican Island as the first federal bird reservation. During his presidency, Roosevelt would create a network of 55 wildlife refuges nationwide. Paul Kroegel was hired as the first national wildlife refuge manager, becoming the official guardian of his beloved Pelican Island and its native and migratory bird populations. At first, Kroegel was paid only $1 per month by the Florida Audubon Society, because Congress had failed to budget any money for the wildlife refuge the president had created. Kroegel continued to watch over Pelican Island for the next 23 years, retiring from federal service in 1926. The U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System The national wildlife refuge system that President Roosevelt established by creating Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and many other wildlife areas has become the worlds largest and most diverse collection of lands dedicated to wildlife preservation. Today, the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System includes 562Â  national wildlife refuges, thousands of waterfowl protection areas and four marine national monuments throughout the United States and in U.S. territories. Collectively, these wildlife areas total more than 150 million acres of managed and protected lands. The addition of three marine national monuments in early 2009- all three located in the Pacific Ocean- increased the size of the National Wildlife Refuge System by 50 percent. In 2016, public land advocates nationwide were shocked when armed gunmen took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon. This action at least had the benefit of bringing to the publics attention the importance of these lands, not only for wildlife but also for people. Edited by Frederic Beaudry

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Biography of Atahualpa, Last King of the Inca

Biography of Atahualpa, Last King of the Inca Atahualpa was the last of the native lords of the mighty Inca Empire, which spanned parts of present-day Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia. He had just defeated his brother Huascar in a violent civil war when Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro arrived in the Andes mountains. The unlucky Atahualpa was quickly captured by the Spanish and held for ransom. Although his ransom was paid, the Spanish killed him anyway, clearing the way for the plunder of the Andes. Fast Fact: Atahualpa Known For: Last indigenous king of the Incan EmpireAlso Known As:  Atahuallpa, Atawallpa, and Ata WallpaBorn: c. 1500 in CuzcoParents: Wayna Qhapaq; mother believed to be either Tocto Ocllo Coca,Paccha Duchicela, or Tà ºpac PallaDied: July 15, 1533 in CajamarcaNotable Quote: Your emperor may be a great prince; I do not doubt it, seeing that he has sent his subjects so far across the waters; and I am willing to treat him as a brother. As for your pope of whom you speak, he must be mad to speak of giving away countries that do not belong to him. As for my faith, I will not change it. Your own God, as you tell me, was put to death by the very men He created. But my God still looks down on His children. Early Life In the Incan Empire, the word â€Å"Inca† meant â€Å"king† and generally only referred to one man: the ruler of the Empire. Atahualpa was one of many sons of Inca Huayna Capac, an efficient and ambitious ruler. The Incas could only marry their sisters: no one else was deemed noble enough. They had many concubines, however, and their offspring (Atahualpa included) were considered eligible for rule. Rulership of the Inca did not necessarily pass to the eldest son first, as was the European tradition. Any one of Huayna Capac’s sons would be acceptable. Often, civil wars broke out between brothers for succession. Huayna Capac died in 1526 or 1527, possibly of a European infection such as smallpox. His heir apparent Ninan Cuyuchi died as well. The Empire immediately split, as Atahualpa ruled the northern part from Quito and his brother Huascar ruled the southern part from Cuzco. A bitter civil war ensued and raged until Huascar was captured by Atahualpa’s forces in 1532. Although Huascar had been captured, regional mistrust was still high and the population was clearly divided. Neither faction knew that a far greater menace was approaching from the coast. The Spanish Francisco Pizarro was a seasoned campaigner who had been inspired by Hernn Cortà ©s audacious (and lucrative) conquest of Mexico. In 1532, with a troop of 160 Spaniards, Pizarro set off along the western coast of South America in search of a similar empire to conquer and plunder. The troop included four of Pizarros brothers. Diego de Almagro was also involved  and would arrive with reinforcements after Atahualpas capture. The Spanish had an enormous advantage over the Andeans with their horses, armor, and weapons. They had some interpreters that had been previously captured from a trading vessel. Capture of Atahualpa The Spanish were immensely fortunate in that Atahualpa happened to be at Cajamarca, one of the closest major cities to the coast where they had disembarked. Atahualpa had just received word that Huascar had been captured and was celebrating with one of his armies. He had heard of the foreigners coming and felt that he had little to fear from fewer than 200 strangers. The Spanish hid their horsemen in the buildings around the main square at Cajamarca, and when the Inca arrived to converse with Pizarro, they rode out, slaughtering hundreds and capturing Atahualpa. No Spanish were killed. Ransom With Atahualpa held captive, the Empire was paralyzed. Atahualpa had excellent generals, but none dared try to free him. Atahualpa was very intelligent and soon learned of the Spanish love for gold and silver. He offered to fill a large room half full with gold  and full twice over with silver for his release. The Spanish quickly agreed and the gold began flowing in from all corners of the Andes. Most of it was in the form of priceless art and it was all melted down, resulting in an incalculable cultural loss. Some of the greedy conquistadors took to breaking up golden items so that the room would take longer to fill. Personal Life Before the arrival of the Spanish, Atahualpa had proven to be ruthless in his ascent to power. He ordered the death of his brother Huascar and several other family members who blocked his way to the throne. The Spanish who were Atahualpa’s captors for several months found him to be brave, intelligent, and witty. He accepted his imprisonment stoically and continued to rule his people while captive. He had small children in Quito by some of his concubines, and he was evidently quite attached to them. When the Spanish decided to execute Atahualpa, some were reluctant to do so because they had grown fond of him. Atahualpa and the Spanish Although Atahualpa may have been friendly with some individual Spaniards such as Francisco Pizarro’s brother Hernando, he wanted them out of his kingdom. He told his people not to attempt a rescue, believing that the Spanish would leave once they had received their ransom. As for the Spanish, they knew their prisoner was the only thing keeping one of Atahualpa’s armies from crashing down on them. Atahualpa had three important generals, each of whom commanded an army: Chalcuchima in Jauja, Quisquis in Cuzco, and Rumià ±ahui in Quito. Death General Chalcuchima allowed himself to be lured to Cajamarca and captured, but the other two remained threats to Pizarro and his men. In July 1533, they began hearing rumors that Rumià ±ahui was approaching with a mighty army, summoned by the captive Emperor to wipe out the intruders. Pizarro and his men panicked. Accusing Atahualpa of treachery they sentenced him to burn at the stake, although he was eventually garrotted. Atahualpa died on July 26, 1533, in Cajamarca. Rumià ±ahuis army never came: the rumors had been false. Legacy With Atahualpa dead, the Spanish quickly elevated his brother Tupac Huallpa to the throne. Although Tupac Huallpa soon died of smallpox, he was one of a string of puppet Incas who allowed the Spanish to control the nation. When Atahualpa’s nephew Tà ºpac Amaru was killed in 1572, the royal Inca line died with him, ending forever any hope for native rule in the Andes. The successful conquest of the Inca Empire by the Spanish was largely due to unbelievable luck and several key mistakes by the Andeans. Had the Spanish arrived a year or two later, the ambitious Atahualpa would have consolidated his power and may have taken the threat of the Spanish more seriously and not allowed himself to be captured so easily. The residual hatred by the people of Cuzco for Atahualpa after the civil war certainly played a part in his downfall as well. After Atahualpa’s death, some people back in Spain began asking uncomfortable questions about whether Pizarro had the right to invade Peru and capture Atahualpa, considering Atahualpa had never harmed him. These questions were eventually solved by declaring that Atahualpa, who was younger than his brother Huscar with whom he had been warring, had usurped the throne. Therefore, it was reasoned, he was fair game. This argument was very weak- the Inca did not care who was older, any son of Huayna Capac could have been king- but it sufficed. By 1572, there was a complete smear campaign in place against Atahualpa, who was called a cruel tyrant and worse. The Spanish, it was argued, had â€Å"saved† the Andean people from this â€Å"demon.† Atahualpa today is seen as a tragic figure, a victim of Spanish ruthlessness and duplicity. This is an accurate assessment of his life. The Spanish not only brought horses and guns to the fight, but they also brought insatiable greed and violence that were just as instrumental in their conquest. He is still remembered in parts of his old Empire, particularly in Quito, where you can take in a soccer game at the Atahualpa Olympic Stadium. Sources Hemming, John. The Conquest of the Inca London: Pan Books, 2004 (original 1970).Herring, Hubert. A History of Latin America From the Beginnings to the Present. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962.