WHEN IDEAS BECOME MOVEMENTS
The various celebratory World Days are tremendous, but there is a danger that they become the only day we focus on someone or something in trouble and leave them unattended for the other 364 days.
This year, we will randomly highlight some non-World Day days that feature in our Great Plains sphere. When it comes to what we can do, what we must do, it is worth seeing the world through the lens of a ten-year-old when they are forty years old.
If we project the rhino poaching curve forward, ten years is their extinction date. Lions, polar bears, pangolins, cheetahs… so many species seem to be on that ledge, toes clawing on to stay with us.
Amazing things start to happen when we understand these challenges and why they occur—a small movement grows. Like electricity, a book released and a social media campaign creates flashes of ideas that come together and rally around a cause. We have recently seen this around rhinos across the continent and around the world again, where on the ground, rangers are fighting a boots-on-the-ground running battle to save each one. Governments have started shutting down illegal trade routes, airlines like Qatar are instrumental in apprehending illegal consignments, helping to close off the leaks in this struggling ship.
We recently asked Jane Goodall, who had already done the foreword to one of our books, to take a picture with that book and she immediately and graciously leapt forward to help. Staff, managers, conservationists, rangers, influencers, guests, agents and tour operators have started joining this picture campaign, so please add your voices.
Our own collaborative move of rhinos via Rhinos Without Borders was an effort to buy some time in that race against extinction. Recently African Parks moved 30 more to Rwanda. Uganda is moving rhinos, and in Kenya, there are increased efforts to protect more rhinos. There is a real rhino story back on the table again, growing in small pockets of positivity and hope.
But… When 23 rhinos were recently killed in South Africa in as many hours, we are reminded that we are constantly engaged in an arms race. In an intellectual battle to outsmart the highly organised transnational crime syndicates and to make sure that the ten-year-olds of today can have as much pleasure from nature as we have had. That they can find the spiritual and emotional joy from seeing astounding beasts lumber out from behind some bush as a surprise. That every living creature can thrive with cleaner air and fresher water.
That responsibility is real, but one of the tools that arm us as conservationists is tourism, meaningful tourism with benefits to communities to thrive from the long history of collaborative protection of these gems.
So, welcome to 2022, the year of the reboot of Conservation Tourism.