The great minds of wildlife conservation, rhino poaching, saving endangered species, regulating trophy hunting, rescue and rehab, habitat preservation… divided!
I’m not a professional conservationist, simply a wildlife lover turned advocate. What follows is strictly my opinion, based on my recent observations and experience viewed through my eyes as a human behaviorist.
There is an old truism, “united we stand divided we fall”. A country, a community, a family, even a cause that is divided faces unnecessary struggles and sadly success may even elude its grasp.
United doesn’t mean a group of “yes” men and women, healthy debates, critical feedback and even disagreement exists in unity. So how can that be? Well, it’s when a group of diverse people bring their differences and strengths to bear towards a specific agreed upon end goal.
Everyone keeps their eye on the goal like in this diagram…
Imagine sitting at a conference table with your organization. You see the blonde fella and the short haired gal right across from you. Behind them is a large window with a view of the city skyline and a few puffy clouds. The blonde fella across from you, although in the very same room with the very same objectives for being there has a totally different view. He sees you and the wall behind you sporting a large painting of wild horses galloping across the grasslands. Is your perspective right and his wrong?
For more than a year we have been engaging with some amazing people. We had the good fortune of meeting some of them while on our wildlife conservation tour in South Africa last year. These dedicated rescue/rehab experts, sanctuary owners, research heads and conservationists inspire us beyond belief. They and countless others work hard to protect and preserve Africa’s wildlife.
However, far too many of them operate in isolation. Only a few have their community and other NGO’s actively involved in growing their projects. Partly, because sadly enough few are interested, but also, because they resist collaboration or take offense and make enemies far too quickly.
Let me explain and offer a slight correction that may make a huge difference to the wildlife conservation cause:
This appears to be a common reaction in South Africa when a statement is uncomfortable:
It reminds me of kids getting into a squabble and one grabbing her toy and going home in a huff. This type of response resolves nothing; on the contrary it depletes both energy and power. And the goal of playing and having fun is totally thwarted.
May I suggest a different more proactive response when faced with an uncomfortable situation:
“I’m confused… can you help me understand?”
“I must have missed something, can you explain?”
“I can agree with you on that, unfortunately the situation is…”
“Sorry, did I do something to offend you?”
Now I know, apologizing or showing signs of confusion may be a huge step. It may seem wimpy, on the contrary, the one who gets angry is the loser, the one who remains calm, civil and in control is the “bigger man”.
Working together in a cause, country, community or family is like dancing. We step on each other’s toes sometimes, that just happens. When we apologize and regroup we make progress towards our goal, however, if we leave the dance floor in a huff we’ll never learn how to dance.
Let’s appreciate what each brings to the floor. Let’s get conservationists, rescue/rehabbers, sanctuary owners, researchers, rangers, foundations and funds on the dance floor. United our odds are so much better to save the wildlife… divided, well….