Above picture: George and Cathy Ledec in the mountains of Chihuahua, northern Mexico
The “Wandering Albatross Club” is the highest category recognized within the Sponsor a Hectare initiative recognized by the Mouse-Free Marion Project. To join the club individuals, couples or groups need to sponsor at least 100 hectares of the 30 000-ha Marion Island at R1000/ha, currently equivalent to US$55/ha. So far, only eight sponsors have done so. Among them are George and Cathy Ledec, who joined the prestigious club last year by sponsoring 200 hectares, double the minimum amount to be listed in the category. At the time, this was the largest sponsorship; only recently surpassed by a third 100-ha sponsorship by John and Alison Bradshaw, who have now sponsored a total of 300 hectares. The Ledecs’ generous sponsorship followed from their participation on the Flock to Marion 2022 voyage that raised over three million Rands towards the MFM Project.
Dr George Ledec has devoted his professional career to biodiversity conservation, mainly at the World Bank where he retired as Lead Ecologist in 2020. He continues to advise on conservation issues, particularly protected areas management and making infrastructure projects more biodiversity friendly. His publications include Greening the Wind, Good Dams and Bad Dams, Biodiversity Conservation in Road Projects and the World Bank Group’s Biodiversity Offsets User Guide. George was born in what is now the Czech Republic and currently resides in the United States, where he is a naturalized citizen. An avid birder with a world life list over 6500 species, he has a special fondness for albatrosses and other seabirds. He is acutely aware of the threats that many seabird species face, especially from poorly managed fisheries and from invasive species on their breeding grounds. George views the MFM Project as an outstanding opportunity to eliminate permanently one particularly severe threat from a globally significant seabird breeding site.
George’s wife Cathy Ledec is a passionate environmental advocate and energetic volunteer in her community. Retired in 2015 from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she has held numerous local leadership positions in Fairfax County, Virginia (near Washington, DC). These include Chair of the Fairfax County Tree Commission, President of the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park, Audubon Society of Northern Virginia Board Member and Site Leader for the Fairfax County Invasive Species Management Program. In recognition of her tireless efforts to protect the natural environment, Cathy has received the Friends of Trees Award, Environmental Excellence Award and Fairfax County’s “Citizen of the Year.” She recently relocated with George to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they are working to restore native biodiversity on their waterfront land. She is also a keen birder and enjoys international travel with George, along with gardening for wildlife and spending time with family. Cathy’s deep understanding of the serious damage that non-native, invasive species can do to local ecosystems informs her strong support for the MFM campaign – a very promising effort to permanently remove a harmful, invasive species and achieve a lasting conservation legacy.
In November-December 2022 George and Cathy undertook an 18-day Falklands-South Georgia-Antarctica cruise with the American Birding Association and Rockjumper Birding Tours. The cruise had nearly 200 passengers aboard, among whom they informally promoted the Mouse-Free Marion Project, including by distributing a two-page MFM prospectus the project had provided at their request.
The MFM Project is grateful to the Ledecs, and all the many who have sponsored a hectare or more, towards its goal of ridding Marion Island of its albatross-killing mice. Click here to make your own sponsorship; every hectare counts!
John Cooper, News Correspondent, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 4 April 2023
The Mouse-Free Marion Project is a registered non-profit company (No. 2020/922433/08) in South Africa, established to eradicate the invasive albatross-killing mice on Marion Island in the Southern Ocean. The project was initiated by BirdLife South Africa and the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. Upon successful completion, the project will restore the critical breeding habitat of over two million seabirds, many globally threatened, and improve the island’s resilience to a warming climate. For more information or to support the project please visit mousefreemarion.org.