One of the biggest challenges for conservationists the world over is education.
This world poses many challenges for those that live upon it. For both humans and animals. We, despite being the dominant species, must always think of our own future. As a result, we can often overlook the concerns of our wild neighbours.
Sometimes, all it takes is an illustration of how the human world can cohabit with the natural one for the beginnings of a fruitful relationship to take root. Other times, we need constant reminders. We need encouragement lest we forget about the wild spaces as we struggle to build a living from our glassy-windowed apartments in great urban cities.
It falls to the conservationist to remind those who do not see the daily threat that it still exists. It falls to us to remind individuals of some uncomfortable truths that they would rather be forgotten.
It falls to us to encourage individuals burdened by a great many cares to care about yet another issue they have limited control over.
In normal times, the concerns of the everyday divert us from safeguarding our natural world.
Today, the concerns of the everyday are intertwined with the concerns of the natural world.
Conservation experts petition the World Health Organisation.
Last month, hundreds of conservation experts added their names to an open letter calling the WHO to recommend national governments crack down on the trade of wild animals.
The letter made clear the link between the Coronavirus and the trade of wild animals and asked that the WHO recommend the closure of markets that facilitate this trade. It was coordinated by the Born Free Foundation, a charity conceived alongside our own, here in Kenya.
We, at the Tsavo Trust put our name on a similar document as part of the #EndTheTrade movement.
Scientists at the Humane Society International have added to the open letter a research paper that predicts an unwanted future. According to the experts at the Humane Society International:
“If the actions that should have been taken worldwide in 2002 are not taken now, and wildlife markets of the type that has been the probable source of both SARS and COVID-19 are not dealt with — and, as we argue here, permanently closed — by governments on a global scale, the emergence of another coronavirus-based disease in the future is a practical certainty.”
Markets and COVID-19. Washington, D.C.
Never has the need for safe Human/Animal cohabitation been more obvious
The whole world knows that the greatest threat we face today started in the trade of wild animals. In the same markets that sell the forcibly removed horns and tusks that we, at the Tsavo Trust, struggle daily to keep on their rightful owners, was COVID-19 born.
Right now, we do not need to remind the global citizen about the dangers of a mismanaged relationship with nature.
The reminder is in restricted movement, it is in conference calls held on Zoom, it is in missed loved ones, and it is in the daily fear – of becoming infected, of our loved ones’ welfare, and of the threats to our livelihoods.
We need to remind the world that, if we are complacent, nothing will change
In some of our previous articles we discussed some of the new dangers posed to conservation efforts on the ground. We have highlighted how economic uncertainty has forced many to rely on illegal poaching for their sustenance.
We have demonstrated that a drop-off in tourism has left animals without surveillance and therefore vulnerable to attack. We have shared first-hand accounts of the increased prevalence of snares in our local Tsavo Conservation Area.
We have also discussed the difficulties of maintaining a donation-based organisation at a time in which economic downturn looks like a certainty. Organisations like ours, still toiling despite the difficulties of reduced funding. Organisations like Born Free, which brought this matter to the World Health Organisation.
Without the work of charities such as Born Free, as ourselves – the Tsavo Trust -, and the many brilliant and hard-working organisations that signed the open letter alongside Born Free, these issues might remain unheard.
Now, more than ever, conservation charities need your assistance
The threat to the longevity and beauty of our natural world has never been higher. It falls to us, uncomfortably and regrettably, to ask for aid when we know that the rest of the world also suffers from the fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic. The wildlife we work so hard to protect cannot write and it falls to us to do so in their stead.
If you think you are in a position to help, then please do. You can do so by following this link. Now, more than ever before, your donation will be appreciated.