Three practical things we learned from a group of Fifth Grade students that will help stop wildlife trafficking of endangered animals and birds in Africa.
“I had no idea!”
“You’ve got to be kidding!”
Recently we met with a group of Fifth Grade students and their teachers. Wildlife Poaching was one of the topics they wanted to learn about for a major end of the year project. Like most folks, their jaws dropped when they heard that the USA was the world’s second largest importer of wildlife body parts.
One of the youngsters, who had been relatively quiet throughout raised his hand near the end of our time together. With sadness and concern in his voice he told us that a year ago his grandfather had proudly (and sounds like quite ceremoniously) given him a hand carved ivory tusk. “What should I do?” He pleaded, no longer wanting to have any part of this once treasured possession.
Young people do pay attention. Young people do care. Young people want to do the right thing.
Another Fifth Grade youngster told a more positive story. His mother worked in a store that sold craft jewelry. One day an enlightened man mentioned to her that the lovely feathers decorating some of their pieces came from birds stolen from the jungles of Africa. Appalled, his mother went to the shop owner and told him she could no longer work for him if they continued to sell merchandize that harmed living beings. The shop owner decided to make a change and started carrying a different line of products.
Ordinary people do pay attention. Ordinary people do care. Ordinary people do want to do the right thing.
What can people in the USA do to stop wildlife trafficking?
From this experience with a group of fifth grade students and their teachers we learned three things we can all do…
Pay attention to what we’re buying or given as a gift. If you and I stop buying those feathered ear rings, those fancy snake skin boots the demand will be reduced and subsequently so will the killing of Africa’s wildlife. It’s really as simple as that. It’s just that enough of us need to pay attention.
Listen to your heart
Listen to your heart and don’t rationalize when you see a piece of pretty jewelry with gorgeous feathers or that unique ostrich leather hand bag. Think… a bird gave its life for that stylish accessory. Once we know at what sacrifice a product is brought to us, and if we stop and listen to our heart, we will make the right decision.
Say something next time you see a fur coat in your favorite antique mall or wonder if that ornate bracelet is made of ivory. Mention something to the clerk, write a note to the owner, write a review on Google or whatever else you can think of… the point… do something. If you and I conjure up the courage to open our mouth and to say something we just might start a chain reaction like with the mother selling jewelry.
She sat there, right in the middle of the group, about three rows back. At the beginning she was full of questions, ones she’d obviously prepared. About half way through she’d set her tablet aside and disbelief, bewilderment and horror danced together across her face. Finally as our discussion drew to a close, compassion took center stage… it was then I knew our time together was well spent.