Young voices worth hearing on UN World Wildlife Day

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Today (March 3) is UN World Wildlife Day and this year the event is themed around the concept of ‘Listen to the young voices’.

In this spirit, we’re handing today’s blog over to the thoughts of some of EIA’s younger family and friends …

 

“Wildlife means all the animals on the land, sea and air that are wild and free. Wildlife is all the beasts in the world that roam, swim and fly and make our world such an amazing and interesting place to live in and enjoy.

“It is important to protect wildlife because if we don’t it may affect the world and the environment. It is important that we can try to make sure that other people and children in the future can see the wonderful things that I can see today.”

Molly Milnes, 11

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Bengal tiger, India (c) Elliott Neep / www.elliottneep.com

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“While collecting data for my dissertation project in the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Mexico, I became aware of the real difficulty in finding a balance between conservation and the locals’ desire or need to continue traditional practices.

“During my stay in the forest I came across a few examples of this continued problem, such as locals selling toucan eggs, keeping spider monkeys as pets or killing jaguars to defend livestock. These financially driven actions clash with conservation efforts in the area.

“However, there are several local, national and international organisations working together to find alternative financing sources for the communities living within and from the reserve. Raising cattle drives deforestation and therefore negatively affects wildlife conservation through habitat loss. Being encouraged to leave livestock rearing aside, some locals are now beehive owners who sell honey, or they make a living out of crafting and selling objects made with sustainably sourced materials.

“Children of the local communities are being introduced to wildlife protection through the identification of local bird species, some of which are rare or endangered. New generations are encouraged to learn about bird watching and become tourist guides in one of the most biodiverse zones in the world.

“Cases like that of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve are encouraging and show that a balance can slowly be found between community needs and the protection of wildlife.”

Cristina McBride-Serrano, 22

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Young elephants at play (c) EIA

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“When I think of wildlife, I think of great forests filled with a wide variety of different animals and I want that to continue being the first thing I think of, and not an empty lifeless landscape that is there because of people not being aware of the impacts of deforestation and pollution until it is too late and there is nothing left.

“Because of wildlife, humans have been able to advance; for example, without the rainforest we couldn’t make medicines such as quinine to treat malaria or novocaine, which is used as an anaesthetic.

“That is why, on UN World Wildlife Day – and on all other days for that matter – everyone should do their best to help to protect wildlife, because if we continue at this rate there will be nothing left to protect.”

Rebecca Newman, 15

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Humpback whale mother and calf (c) Sue Flood / www.sueflood.com

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“I’ve always loved nature, seeing different wild animals in the countryside, watching birds in their habitat.

“I plan to go traveling in a couple of years and really want to see exotic animals like elephants and tigers in the wild, where they are supposed to be.”

Ross Dishington, 17

 

 

 

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African white-bellied pangolin, DR Congo (c) African Pangolin Working Group

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“Just sit back for a minute and imagine a world without wildlife … I don’t think I could.

“Beautiful winged creatures soaring through the sky, finned beings gliding through the oceans, lots of them living on Earth way before we were. Lots of these animals have already disappeared and in most cases it has been the fault of mankind, but there are so many more we can save from ourselves.

“When I think of a world without animals, I think of a world without life. Many think that humans are much more important than other animals but they should ask themselves: ‘To whom?’ To the world, humans are just about as necessary as a grain of sand. Not only are we unnecessary, but we make things worse, destroying not only our world but the world of all the other animals living in it.

“Just imagine swimming in a deserted sea or walking through a field in spring with no bees or butterflies. They say you don’t fully appreciate things properly until they are taken away from you – I hope we can learn to appreciate wildlife now and protect it before it’s too late.”

Isabella Perry, 15

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Black rhino (c) Elliott Neep / www.elliottneep.com

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“In the fast-paced lives that everyone is living these days, birding is a valuable escape.

“I don’t really know why I like nature so much, whether it is because of living in a place which is basically a forest or being raised in a family that has always taught me to respect all things living, I will never know. The point remains that our ecosystem is the very basis of our existence, and we humans, the so-called ‘supreme beings’ are not doing very well looking after it, thus comes the idea of conservation.

“I believe that everyone should have a little respect for their fellow creatures, for our flora and fauna is an indispensable part of our natural heritage. Although I enjoy observing all kinds of animals, birds fascinate me the most; hopping from branch to branch, singing to brighten up the environment around them and occasionally even staging a little dance in the hope of attracting a mate! Without the avians, the food chain, the very intricate balance that nature has created interlinking all ecosystems and its inhabitants, will be greatly disturbed.

“I love learning about our feathered friends and try to motivate more people to take up birdwatching or even just taking five minutes off their schedule and observing the environment, for even the most silent and abandoned-looking trees host billions of organisms.

“People must be taught how to read what Jawaharlal Nehru once termed as ‘the language of nature’, for only when they connect with the other organisms will they have a desire to know about them and protect them. This bond has to be forged through observations and devotion, it cannot be learnt through books and encyclopaedias. That is what I’m trying to achieve through birding; I’m trying to strengthen my bond with my environment, I’m trying to learn more about it and I’m also simultaneously trying to find my place in it.

“I hope, some day, I will be able to make a difference.”

Yashi Punia, student of Tagore International School, New Delhi