How the hate culture is hampering wildlife conservation
Of all the opposition facing African wildlife’s survival, this latest enemy may be the worst one yet. Sure wildlife trafficking is huge and literally millions of animals and birds lose their lives every year. Just recently a shipment of pangolin scales harvested from some 10,000 pangolins was intercepted in Asia. So wildlife crime is alive and well unfortunately.
Today we visited the David Sheldrick Trust to see the elephant nursery. Every day between 11 and 12 the public is allowed in. Allowed only to watch the little calves get fed and enjoy the mud for a while. It was a real treat. What we learned is that human-wildlife conflicts and habitat loss are nearly as big a threat to the elephant as are the poachers. As human populations continue to escalate land becomes scarce. Of course the voiceless animals come up the losers.
However, today wildlife faces a new enemy!
Or better said, those that work hard to save and protect them are frequently crucified by the online-hate culture. Armchair activists (or whatever they’d like to be called) attack people who give their all to save rhino, lions, elephants and other species.
In the airport in Amsterdam the cover of a TIME magazine caught my attention.
As time has gone by I’ve noticed how demoralizing the online hate culture can be. Especially to the individuals and smaller organizations saving wildlife.
Those impacted by the online hate culture
People like Lorinda Hern who, with her rhino horn poisoning was beginning to scare end users in Asia. Then she got ripped apart for numerous reasons. People lost sight of the good outcome her methods were having to protect the beleaguered rhino. The losers: Lorinda and who knows how many rhino.
Linda Park with the Campaign Against Canned Hunting opened a dialog with a controversial park that allows cub petting. The hate mail she got for talking to the ‘enemy’ was mind boggling. Instead of watching to see the good that may come of sitting down at the table for the good of saving lions. The losers: Linda and wild lions.
There are many more who do so much good for wildlife who have been emotionally devastated by the onslaught from the very people who should be on their side.
Our video about the little baby elephant and his mother who appeared to be rejected by the herd in Hwange National Park similarly came under fire. I was shocked to read how viewers can misinterpret and come to erroneous conclusions with such a limited amount of information.
Countering the online hate culture
So what can we do?
You and I don’t control what others say. However, we do control our response to hateful, obnoxious or rude posts. We can allow our hurt to turn to anger and we can lash back with the same venom. What does that accomplish? You might feel good for a brief moment. But when you and I are the bigger person, take the higher road and remain civil, then doors may open to change a heart.
Does that mean we cave in? Of course not. We take a stand when appropriate and remain professional. It’s always okay to disagree, to challenge and to have a different opinion. However, nothing gets accomplished in the long run if we aren’t civil about the way we do so. Agreeing to disagree can be a good thing, then we can find our commonalities and do some good for a much greater good.
One of my ‘Facebook friends’ is a hunter. Now some of you may get all bent out of shape about that. But this particular person and I are able to have a civil dialog. We’ve exchanged information about the status of breeding cheetah. We both care about cheetah. We both believe they are best saved by protecting them in the wild.
Of course there are a few others I finally had to block because of their belligerent attacks on those who comment on my posts or videos.
May I ask you to make a commitment?
Please decide today not to become part of the new online hate culture or if you have slipped on occasion, decide from this day forward to be more civil… it may just help defuse wildlife’s newest enemy! It may just keep a wildlife conservationists motivated. It may just save a rhino, lion or elephant.