ecently, I’ve been walking the streets of Stormwind, asking her people directly: What would you like to see in the Lion’s Roar? What topics resonate with you, what kind of article strikes your fancy? One of the people I asked responded that an interesting topic to read about would be conservation. And that stuck with me, so much so that I decided to indeed write an article about it. Too many people don’t know about the efforts made by the Cenarion Circle and many other organisations and individuals in this regard. Our planet needs to be protected, of course, but that means so much more than just knights and soldiers clad in plate, charging off to beat back undead, demons and aberrations. It also includes some much less violent means of preservation. Today, I want to educate you, our readers, about an endangered species, and about what steps are being taken to save it. And finally, I’ll touch on how you can help! The Red-Tailed Chipmunk is a cute little critter. It is known to grow to a maximum of about 25 centimetres, although a whopping 10 of those centimetres is just the bushy tail. An adult chipmunk weighs around 50 to 60 grams, which is just about as much as a large egg. As in, the egg of a chicken. As their name suggests, this particular chipmunk species has a red tail, which makes it stand out a bit, and makes it easily identifiable. Now, according to Kaldorei legend, the first red-tailed chipmunk stole and consumed a sacred apple, and that’s why it had its tail colored red, presumably by one of the Wild Gods. Whether that’s true or not, they’re definitely cute. But as adorable as they may be, their habitat is in danger, and their existence threatened by the effects of the Fourth War. In fact, until recently, more than 70% of their numbers in the wild lived on Teldrassil, with the remaining colonies mostly being found in the Hillsbrad Foothills. Other than that, there is a controlled population in the Cenarion Wildlands in Desolace, watched over by the druids of the Cenarion Circle. But before I get deeper into that, what does it even mean for a species to be endangered? There is a scale with multiple threat levels for any given species. Some of the more common animals around that might be familiar to all of you, like the Elwynn deer, are classified as ‘Least Concern’ - which means that there are a healthy number of them out in the wild, and we won’t have to worry about them anytime soon. The Red-Tailed Chipmunk, however, was catapulted straight into ‘Vulnerable’ as a result of the Burning of Teldrassil, and the loss of much of its habitat. After the initial chaos of the War, it didn’t take long for them to be reclassified into ‘Endangered’, a step up in intensity from ‘Vulnerable’. To qualify for this, there are a number of possible conditions, but in the case of our chipmunk, more than half their population were lost with the great tree, and a large part of its natural habitat. Even the colonies in Hillsbrad Foothills were threatened by constant skirmishes between the factions, and it was deemed possible that they would collapse within the next decade. So, back to the Cenarion Circle and their efforts in the conservation of the species: What do they do, exactly? Thankfully, I have a friend in the Circle, and I asked her about it. She offered to schedule a trip to the Cenarion Wildlands and an interview with her, while at the same time being able to see their Red-Tailed Chipmunk population first-hand. Actually meeting the rodents just made me even more passionate about this article, because hey, they’re really cute. And they thrive in the Wildlands, which is a beautiful thing to behold. After she showed me around, my friend and I sat down for the interview. Cassie:"So... Of course, we know each other already, and this isn't the first time I've interviewed you, but, would you state your name and occupation again for the record?" Vivi:"My name is Victoria Valerie Caladan, but I simply go by Vivi. I'm a druid of the Cenarion Circle, and a member of the Amber Foundation, where I lead a project to take care of the planters and greenery within Stormwind City." Cassie:"And are you directly involved in this conservation project for the Red-Tailed Chipmunk?" Vivi:"No, and honestly, until you asked me about it, I didn't know its extent. But I came here to inform myself, so that I could give you a proper interview about the topic, and show you around a bit. The actual leaders of the project were happy to let me represent them." Cassie:"I appreciate that a lot! So, first of all: What kind of problems do the chipmunks face currently? What's threatening their survival?" Vivi:"Their population took a huge hit during the Fourth War. There are still some left in the wild in the Hillsbrad Foothills, but the war reduced their numbers, too. Essentially, their habitat has reduced in size considerably, which is a big problem." Cassie:"What can you do about that?" Vivi:"Well, we have a breeding program here in the Wildlands, and we periodically release new individuals into the population in the Foothills, to stabilise their numbers." Cassie:"What if their population grows? Will that not negatively affect their habitat?" Vivi:"That is something that we have been giving a lot of thought, it's always something to worry about. But in this case, we've already seen some chipmunks venture to the West toward Silverpine Forest before the Fourth War. We believe that once the population recovers, they will expand their habitat there again." Cassie:"And, just to be sure: That wouldn't cause any problems for the ecosystem in Silverpine, right?" Vivi:"No. In fact, it might be beneficial, as Silverpine has lost a lot of its indigenous rodents. Undead squirrels roam the countryside, and we hope that an increase in chipmunk population may help bring some life back to the Forest." Cassie:"So... The ecological niche that the chipmunk would occupy is essentially vacant in Silverpine right now?" Vivi:"Well, there are still some squirrels in Silverpine, but not many. But the species can be found all over the planet. All in all, an expansion of the chipmunk habitat westward would be greatly beneficial. But to do that, we have to increase their numbers." Cassie:"How is that going?" Vivi:"From what I've been told here, it's going alright, but there are some worries. The population is rather small, and that leads to issues in the breeding program. Simply said, they will need fresh blood soon to effectively continue." Cassie:"Aaah. I see how that can be a problem. Are there any possible solutions to that?" Vivi:"Yes, actually. Before Teldrassil fell, a number of Kaldorei and Gilneans befriended Red-Tailed Chipmunks, and built relationships with them as companions or pets. We believe that there may still be a lot of them out there." Cassie:"And those could add some fresh blood to the program?" Vivi:"Exactly. The Circle urges anyone out there who has a Red-Tailed Chipmunk as a companion or pet to bring it to the Cenarion Wildlands, or to any Circle representative they may know. Even just lending them for one mating season can help enormously." Cassie:"Makes sense, diversifies the population. What else can people do to help with the program?" Vivi:"Well, the actual work is best handled by the druids here in the Wildlands. But as with anything, donations always help. There's a lot of logistics involved." Cassie:"Money makes the world go round, as usual. Is there anything else you would like to say about the program or the conservation efforts of the Circle?" Vivi:"Just that there are many species all over the planet that are in need of help. We do our best to preserve them wherever possible, but it is a monumental task, and support is always appreciated." Cassie:"Thank you for your time, Vivi! " Of course, this isn’t the only work done by the Circle that affects the Red-Tailed Chipmunk: Efforts to heal the land in Silverpine and Hillsbrad are ongoing, and will hopefully help increase the size of the habitat as well. But the main focus is on getting the numbers back up. To that end, if you find yourself having a Red-Tailed Chipmunk as a pet, consider letting the druids of the Circle borrow it for a season! And if not, you can always help spread awareness. Personally, this article has opened my eyes to a topic that I just genuinely did not know anything about. And now that I’ve started to inform myself, I find it hard not to care about the topic of conservation, and have started to annoy a few people to help out with it. Don’t be surprised if you see more articles about endangered species in the future with my name on them - especially if there’s more cute chipmunks to save.