Being a close knitted pack in the conservation field especially as youth is not as easy. We all have different goals, dreams and ambitions. We all want to work within our own paths [if we have already found one]. What will happen when we bring all our talent, thoughts, ideas and of more importance, our passion to work together and solve conservation challenges all across the country? What if the older and working generation actually listens to our ideas and involves us in conservation projects?
The younger generation has limitless energy and in some cases, time. Let’s consider the conservation /environmental world like the plains of Africa with a pack of wild dogs been us, the youth. Wild dogs rely on team work and strategy for their survival. Our survival, in the plains of the conservation world, is being able to achieve our individual goals and ambitions and still have the opportunity to be of service to nature and all that is encompassed in it. Our goal; For us to be heard, for us to be considered for opportunities, whether employment, projects, scholarships or grants, regardless of our experience, skills or applications.
Like wild dogs, we can choose to prey on smaller challenges like the Grant’s gazelle, but this will not be worth the effort. Wild dogs will continue to run for long distances as they find the right kind of prey worth all the effort. Setting our focus on bigger challenges, we should chase after what we are looking for no matter how long it will take and regardless of the obstacles we will face along the way. When a pack of wild dogs comes across their target prey, for instance, a wildebeest, despite how long it took to find them, their stamina builds up. They will need to ensure they chase the wildebeest until the animal tires out and becomes an easier target to attack.
In one scenario chase, they may manage to separate the herd and focus on a lone wildebeest. With great stamina, they will chase the wildebeest for miles. The wildebeest cannot go on for as long as the pack can. When one dog tires, there is always another member of the team to take up the lead. Overall, the wild dogs always have the advantage of numbers over one wildebeest whose energy and will power to survive will be over spent. Working as a pack allows the wild dogs to take up prey 10 times heavier than them. Although there are many mouths to be fed, the pack knows this is a fight they have to do in order to survive every single day.
Remember the youthful energy we have and the passion is enough to actually bring change. There is a lot of doctrines in the conservation area where we still use old age and Westernized methods to solve conservation challenges that are still affecting Africa. For instance, we have not yet being able to solve the issue of human-wildlife conflict. Do we need a total change in mind set from everyone in Africa involved in the natural sciences field to be able to solve this and many other challenges? We need this and more efforts such as education and awareness.
“The generation that destroys the environment is not the generation that pays the price. That is the problem.” – Prof. Wangari Maathai
Sometimes, we do not know who we are and are still discovering what it is we want to be, support and be involved in the conservation world. We do not know where life is going to take us, but doing what we are passionate about and going for it full force, everything does fall into place. What is required, however, is total hard work because just been passionate without putting in the work will possibly not lead us anywhere. Sitting down and expecting things to fall into place is a call to fail and most likely be pulled to what we did not approve of in the country’s natural resource management system.
Changing our mind set begins by changing even our small daily habits. It begins with what conservation means to each one of us as individuals. How do we expect other people to understand why conserving our natural resources is important when we do take up the role to guide others in believing, ‘well, this is important’? Our message as youth is powerful and can steer change in the right direction and possibly prevent historical injustices happening all over again.
When we show immense passion towards what we do, and like wild dogs, to never tire until we get what we want, until we change certain aspects and until we ensure our voices have been heard, not just to make reports, but to also implement our ideas, the youth can and will continue to believe in themselves. We will continue to inspire others to take up opportunities in the conservation area regardless of what professionalism they studied. We will gain more support and even attract everyone from the grass roots level to the urbanites to forever conserve what we have.
“You cannot enslave a mind that knows itself. That values itself. That understands itself.” – Prof Wangari Maathai
Featured Image: The President of African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), Kaddu Kiwe Sebunya, speaking to the youth in Nairobi at the the Launch of The AWF Youth Forum.