I’m no numerologist, but I have some significant prophetic numbers that worm around in my head. 36 is one of them, and it happens to be the percentage of human land biomass across the planet. When I read this, it was shocking that more than a third of all life, across all continents, is human.
Then I focused on the next number, 60 – another percentage of the earth’s total life made up by our livestock! We grow and farm animals to feed that 36%, and we do it in huge numbers, even chopping down forests to grow feed for cattle to provide for us or ravaging wildlands, removing predators – all competing for grass!
But the real number is 4.
Squeezed out of the total percentage game is 4%
– representing anything wild.
So, it is no wonder we have a day today dedicated specifically to wildlife. On World Wildlife Day (the 3rd of March annually), and like any of these ‘days’ now, it is all about celebrating, enjoying and respecting wildlife. It is about taking a moment to think about our relationship with wildlife and reinventing our relationship there. It is about extending trust, empathy and affording dignity to wildlife.
And in some cases, expressing forgiveness.
In my case, precisely 4 years ago today, as Beverly and I walked towards tent number 4 at Duba Plains, a buffalo launched himself at us, sent me flying, breaking my hip and some ribs and impaled Beverly on his horns, with one horn slicing its way through her chest, neck and into her skull, stopping 1 mm short of her optic nerve behind her eye.
When I ran after the buffalo, I had but one moment to counter-attack in the dark and kick the buffalo in the flank and get Beverly back. We have not really published this story, and a book is in the works, of course, but it took me 18 hours to get Beverly to the hospital.
Looking at her today, you would not know the trauma. But that happened on that World Wildlife Day, and during the long night where I lost her twice, both she and I said, ‘It wasn’t the buffalo’s fault.’
Our incident is pivotal to us, of course, as it is to anyone who comes that close to death, but it made us think about just how close wildlife is to that tipping point to extinction as well.
Just as Beverly lay in the ICU for months, wildlife is in a version of ‘critical’ as well, and it is our collective duty to bring it back from that destiny.
So at the Great Plains Foundation, we are dedicating our efforts to Recovery and Protection, Growth and Rehabilitation of the wild. A part of that circles back to tourism and why it is essential. Admittedly at Great Plains, we take a different view of this and operate as a “Conservation First” company where everything we do, even in tourism, serves our conservation, so my focus is what tourism does for conservation and communities. Without the tourism industry’s annual $50Billion steady stream of tourism revenues, communities suffer, conservation suffers and wildlife, well, wildlife declines in number and percentage. 4% is a shocking jolt to realism, like being hit by a buffalo. But we can all recover.
So today, they need us more than ever before, and to those who have that ‘warrior’ mentality, wildlife could really use that right now.
This next piece from us is a video we put together largely for me to speak to our leadership group, and you will notice the absence of any discussion about interiors or special rates. More about our mission at Great Plains, and today, it seems appropriate to share it more widely with you.