As a girl, I remember my Apache grandmother telling me the above Native American proverb, which has become influential in how I have approached conservation of the flora and fauna of our earth. Although many people are already in an emotional state of “doom,” that the world is spirally into disaster and destruction and there is no way we can turn back the hands of time to prevent such chaos, I remain positive. I have stood up against those who violate national and international wildlife laws, I have revealed my thoughts and emotions about poaching, whaling, the black market of wildlife trade, and its because of what I have learned and have been taught by my ancestors. If you take a look into history, one person or a group of people CAN make a difference (Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Mother Theresa, etc). I have always known my goal or path in life was to be an advocate for animals, and to help bridge the gap between nature and man. No matter what has been said or done to me, I continue to follow my path in hope that one day my actions can positively contribute to the preservation of our world, and that my children, my grandchildren, and all others to come live in a world of harmony and respect for all living life.
For many scientists, we get trapped in our bubble of academia or laboratory life, never interacting with “the outside world.” And when we do interact with non-academic/scientific beings, our approach of communication could be of something from another world. For many, the ability to communicate the importance of their scientific research, or why it is important to conserve wildlife and the environment, can be as challenging and arduous as an athlete prepping for the Olympics. Yet, I have done my best the last several years to jump over this hurdle, reaching out to the community to educate and inspire others on issues of conservation, particularly of predatory animals (sharks, crocodiles, wolves, etc.) Like anything, lack of education immediately transpires into fear within humans. And again, when you study history, fear leads to violence, death, pain. So for me, the involuntary action to kill a snake, crocodile, shark is due to a lack of education. Thus, when I am invited to give a presentation to schools, community gatherings…. I leap at the opportunity. Here is my chance to make a difference and to educate. I don’t expect that everyone in the crowd will become conservationists on the spot, but I believe at least one person will be impacted, which can have a positive ripple affect throughout the community eventually.
Continual outreach and education is the only way to make a difference. At least for me, I owe it to my children, and my children’s children to continue trying.
“If all the beasts were gone, man would die from loneliness of spirit, for whatever happens to the beast, happens to the man.”
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”–Ghandi