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This Watch Wednesday, we thank Tom

The Most Important thing on Earth

We often get bogged down in the “weeds”, struggling with the concepts of how elephants or lions, mice or men fit in without looking up often enough. This week, in a frequent online session Beverly and I have with fellow National Geographic Explorers at Large – of which there is just a handful – we discussed ‘the most important thing on Earth.’ On that call was someone I’ve known for decades, a man who sat on our board at the Big Cats Initiative, a quiet and precise man, and a recent addition to the Explorer cadre. He offered this when I asked him the question:

“The natural world in which we live is nothing short of entrancing – wondrous, really.

I take great joy in sharing a world with the shimmering variety of life on Earth. Nor can I believe any of us actually want a planet which is a lonely wasteland.”

Good words, and what he is talking about is that one thing, BIODIVERSITY. That refers to the enormous variety of life on Earth and how necessary everything is as essential to the other. Diversity being the building blocks of the whole. This richness is effervescently displayed in the Okavango with carmine bee-eaters swooping past male lions or reed frogs hopping out of the way of gigantic bull elephants as they plough their way into the swamp. In turn, creating paths for hippos, who sculpt channels for crocodiles to slide through and where catfish rage during that great fish migration. The fish then caught by fish eagles who eat and drop bits down into the water for tilapia and freshwater crabs to eat, who in turn… Biodiversity!

With International Biodiversity Day being on Friday the 21st of May, today offers us pause to think about the glory of all of this, the impossibility of it all. Perhaps we can find our place in it all and play a positive role in maintaining that preciousness encapsulated in this one scientific but magical word – Biodiversity. At Great Plains, and in our own lives, we have always celebrated this diversity and understood that it is not the single lion or elephant saved that will make a huge difference. We strive to concentrate on the ‘whole’, and that philosophy has resulted in our strategy to protect land that accommodates wildlife that feeds everything else. This short video is an expression of that celebration.

Back to this week’s meeting and the person who offered the quote above. He happens to be Tom Lovejoy, and while it may be lost in time, Tom is the scientist, the single person who first described this interconnectivity and gave it a name; Biodiversity.

Thank you, Tom.