It’s with the small wildlife conservationists where their and maybe our future lies
The initial intention of this story was to highlight the common struggles of small wildlife conservationists. As I wrote I realized the amazing strengths these have developed and what us ordinary folk stand to learn from this dedicated group of people.
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Five Things We Can Learn From Wildlife Conservationists
It’s with the small wildlife conservationists where their and maybe our future lies.
For the past six years we’ve been getting to know people doing good in Africa, the small wildlife conservationists. Our association usually starts by chance on Facebook. Then as we travel through we stop by for a visit and we’re always in for a rewarding experience.
No matter what they say about online friendships, nothing beats the real deal, that face-to-face, sitting across-the-table type of conversation. It’s where the energy flows, the pain is visible and the passion is palpable. Russ and I generally leave such an encounter with a heart full of conflicting emotions and a resolve to do better ourselves.
What we’ve found, albeit different in age, gender, color, and specific discipline there are five things these amazing folk have in common. Five things we can truly learn from them.
A life changing experience
If the small wildlife conservationist grew up surrounded by wildlife or totally dearth of their existence, there is frequently a transforming experience. Like Baye who was handed an orphaned baboon while herself barely an adult. She grew attached to the youngster and made it a promise. Today, still in her mid-twenties Baye founded and runs Bulawayo’s (Zimbabwe) first wildlife rescue rehabilitation center, Free To Be Wild.
The question is less, have I had a life changing experience, and more, do I recognize it when I do?
Do whatever it takes
Getting any business off the ground is tough, but starting and running a nonprofit is even tougher. For many of the same reasons: Sound business plan, enough capital, consistent cash flow, marketing plan, enough staff and so on. So it is amazing to us how the small wildlife conservationists dig deep, draw on strength few of us do, and simply keep on keeping on to make it happen. Like Marnus who lives in the bush on next to nothing, maximizes every cent to save just one more lion and rally’s folks around him to sound the clarion call for Walking For Lions in Botswana.
What is important enough to me that I would do whatever it takes to make it happen?
Face huge obstacles regularly
When operating on a shoe string budget even small obstacles can become large and routine challenges overwhelming. However, we are astounded how small wildlife conservationists almost take these in stride. Probably, because they have become the norm. Challenges that would have ordinary folks throw in the towel are seen more as annoyances as they keep their eyes on the end goal. Like Silke who routinely spends weeks at times months jumping through hoops finding and securing approval for 3 -4 release sites each year for her rehabilitated vervet monkey troops.
What obstacles am I allowing to get in the way of me reaching my goals?
Money is always tight
Unlike a for-profit business where a product or service is sold in exchange for cash a nonprofit largely relies on donations from people who care. The small wildlife conservationist is intent on saving and protecting wild animals and birds and is good at doing that, however, most founders and directors of nonprofits spend a huge chunk of their time fund raising. Some create a retail arm. Like Shannon with her daily flight shows. Along with being highly educational they are a revenue stream for her African Bird Of Prey Sanctuary.
What creative way can I finance my goal of giving?
Sure you might get a ‘thank you’ when you buy a product or service, but when you make a donation or offer support of any kind to small wildlife conservationists, you really feel appreciated. Like Peter who protects rhino and elephants from poachers once told me, that our moral support and cheerleading were every bit as valued as the contributions we’d made to purchase a thermal imaging camera for an Air Ranger (drone/UAV.)
How can I recognize even the simple gifts and show more gratitude?
Small wildlife conservationists are some of the finest people you could ever want to meet. Russ and I consider it an honor and privilege to associate and learn from so many of them.
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