Cheetahs, rhino, and African wildlife, Niklas studying to protect, wildlife conservation.
After enjoying Corryn’s story about why she wants to save wildlife we thought why not share more of the same, they are so inspiring! This is the second in our new series, “Why I Want to Save Wildlife”.
Niklas emailed us for some information. He briefly shared his story, I was hooked, here was a young man who was exposed to the wonders of Africa’s wildlife and, unlike me, got involved at an early age. Here is his story:
Why I Want to Save Wildlife
I first came to South Africa for vacations with my parents when I was 10 years old and we did horseback safaris in the Limpopo Province. Since then I was dreaming about South Africa and its wildlife. Seeing a giraffe from a horse at ten meter distance was an experience that can´t be compared to any visit at a zoo.
I also remember the first rhinos I saw in nature: My parents and I headed out with the lodge owner for a sun-downer at a hill, the Waterberg Mountain in the background. While our driver unpacked and set up a table and folding chairs next to the jeep we saw two rhino females slowly moving towards us in the distance. Enjoying a sun-downer far away from civilization, the two girls came closer. My dad and the owner sitting at the table, enjoying their drinks while my mum and I had an uncomfortable feeling watching these two creatures walking intrigued towards us. By now, my mum and I were hiding under the back seats, not feeling safe anymore, begging the two men to pack up and leave… Watching the two rhinos, as heavy as a mid-size car each, circling our jeep without making any noise at all was impressive. In the end, we left after the drinks were finished, the ladies following us in safe distance.
Looking back at this unique vacation, the desire to know more about those threatened creatures and their habitat was so strong that after I left the military at the age of 21 years I came back to South Africa and started the field guide training, operated by the Field Guide Association of Africa (FGASA). This training made me realize how important it is to conserve the wildlife, especially with all the endemic species that are threatened by humans and the improvement of their lifestyles. For example the ongoing dying of crocodiles in the Olifants river and other rivers where the food for the crocodiles (mainly catfish) gets intoxicated by sediments as people build more dams for electricity and thus change the current of the rivers.
So I think there is still an urgent need to find the right balance of conserving “nature” and support the development of the people. Of course it is important to inform them and point out that on the long run they too will benefit from it. Humans changed nature and its ecosystems that drastic that it would not be able to recover by itself. It is our job to do so and keep the systems in balance. Greater Krüger National Park, as one of the largest cross-national game reserves shows how to do this.
I feel constrained to do so; for most parts it is not too late yet, but will be at some point. Our goal should be to protract this point at our best.
Currently I am studying at a college in the US. I will be graduating next year in biology. I might go back home to Germany afterward to finish my degree most likely in International Forest and Ecosystem Management. I think this is the best way for me to study something that I can use in the future for some kind of my own conservation project in Africa and that will help me to find a job before that.
On a long perspective I want to campaign for that and before I´d like to find a fulfilling job either in the US or South Africa that supports wildlife. At one point I want to live in South Africa permanently tho, and I guess you can understand me.
Having the diverse wildlife and nature around you is the nicest thing I can think of.
Contributed by Guest Blogger Ruwen Niklas Gierls
Our best wishes to you and your studies Niklas… I know we will hear more of you as you follow your passion to protect wildlife in Africa.
What’s your story? Share it with us and we’ll consider posting it on our blog as part of our monthly “Why I Want to Save Wildlife” series.