Is wildlife at the mercy of political will and people who care or is it simply money that both saves and kills endangered wildlife?
“If the problem goes away so does the money!”
I’d not looked at it that way before. However, this was the opinion of a wildlife biologist we recently had the privilege of meeting.
Some nonprofits (NGOs, non government organizations as they are frequently referred to in South Africa) are created more out of a sense of business than a mission she said. Such organizations may rescue wild animals and birds who are orphaned or injured and give them a second chance with the intent to release them back into the wild.
However, in some cases wild animals and birds never get released. There is no place to do so, or the laws don’t allow for transporting across certain boundaries, or the animal has become too habituated to humans, or in the case of some birds an injured wing doesn’t heal well enough to allow proper flight needed for feeding.
From a biologists point of view there are concerns about genetic weakness and disease that might be perpetuated when non-scientifically trained humans intervene and participate in wildlife rescue efforts.
So the question arises do some founders of wildlife conservation operations do so as much to support themselves as to save wildlife? Maybe.
Which leads to a second question… Is it wrong that the creators of a nonprofit support themselves while doing good? Probably not, however, if there is little or no interest in solving the root problem (e.g. curbing wildlife trafficking instead of pushing to legalize the sale of rhino horn) then it is wise to question an organization or individuals motives.
In my experience with those engaged in wildlife conservation they are a dedicated, passionate group of people who truly care and live simple lives, barely taking enough to meet their own needs and always being concerned first about the wildlife they have chosen to serve. Does this mean there aren’t those who use it as a money maker? Sadly no.
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It was back in the 1990’s, I was loving my work as a marriage and family therapist and growing the small rural office for a large Family Service provider west of Houston Texas. Once a month all the office managers met to report on our work, discuss problems and make plans for the future.
On this particular Wednesday we were called into the main office individually, things were going to change dramatically and all management positions were abolished. What?
Came to find out that the CEO of the large governing nonprofit where our agency got the bulk of its funding was caught embezzling, was let go, and naturally the public lost confidence and millions of dollars in donations were lost.
Our services and programs shriveled up. Colleagues resigned and… well everything changed. All this because one person got greedy and thousands were impacted, staff like myself and the people we served.
When is Helping Self Serving?
Staying focused on doing good because it is the right thing to do is crucial so that money can not become the guiding factor.
How to stay focused on the mission of truly saving wildlife?
For us at Nikela we do two things:
1) Stay involved with those we support and continually evaluate if their work remains aligned with our mission and standards.
2) Nobody gets paid, everyone volunteers their time so that decisions are never made based on who may or may not benefit financially.
So does money ‘kill’ and ‘save’ wildlife?
Sadly it does as in the case of trophy hunting. Where hunters, safari operations and officials (engaged in hunting) would like us to believe that they are wildlife conservationists. When we all know that it is simply a self serving industry. After all if trophy hunters were truly interested in wildlife conservation why not donate the money to help instead of having to get the reward of killing an animal.
As you look at your own interest in wildlife or support those who do… please be honest as you access your and their motives… because until we value wildlife and nature as an intrinsic part of our planet and our existence and eradicate self serving interests… Wildlife will remain a commodity.
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