Episode 122: Butterflies, Bison, and the Border Wall – Conservationist Krista Schlyer

Episode 122: Butterflies, Bison, and the Border Wall

Interview with Conservationist Krista Schlyer

Sponsored by Merrell, Rooted, and ThirdLove 

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Conservation photographer Krista Schlyer describes the almost 2,000-mile border between the US and Mexico as a vibrant landscape teeming with life. Raising awareness for its biodiversity has become an integral part of her life’s work and is the focus of a new documentary film she directed, Ay Mariposa, which came out in May.

We hear a lot about the border wall in the news, but we don’t often talk about the wildlife and landscape that its construction impacts.

Note: We want to emphasize that while there’s a lot of talk about flora and fauna in this episode, it’s not to discount the very human elements of the US/Mexico border – it’s simply to highlight what exists alongside it.

Photos © Krista Schlyer

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Featured in this episode: Krista Schlyer

Hosted by Gale Straub

Music is by Lee Rosevere, Kai Engel, Joshwoodward, and Meydän using CC by A license. 

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Krista’s circuitous route to political journalism, followed by a shift to environmental journalism
  • Advice for making a living as a conservation photographer
  • How witnessing a rare herd of bison jump over a border fence changed the direction of Krista’s work
  • Why Krista is so motivated to showcase the biodiversity at the US/Mexico border
  • The many animals that call both the United States and Mexico home
  • Why the butterfly is the perfect symbol for the delicate state of animal life along the Rio Grande
  • The unknown cost of human and animal life due to the border
  • How to keep moving forward when you’re feeling discouraged by the progress of a project
  • About Ay Mariposa, a short documentary film telling the story of two women and a rare community of butterflies in the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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A butterfly cocoon © Krista Schlyer

The transboundary Janos-Hidalgo bison herd is one of five free-ranging herds of bison left in North America. © Krista Schlyer

Zulema Hernandez protesting border wall being built on National Wildlife Refuge land. © Krista Schlyer

La Parida Banco tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge. South Texas. © Krista Schlyer

Krista Schlyer, photograph by Nate Dappan


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