Growing up watching Steve Irwin run around the world saving animals in his khaki shorts, I thought it was a pretty far-fetched reality of what conservation work would be like. However, after just five years in the field, I have found myself in some rather extraordinary situations. From performing CPR on an impala, carrying buckets of endangered hawksbill turtle eggs through a dark jungle, to spotting a tiger whilst crossing a river in my underwear, it turns out conservation work can be pretty wild and is also mainly done in khaki shorts!
I have been incredibly lucky in my conservation journey so far. I have been able to work on some amazing projects around the world and meet some truly inspirational people. My immersion into the conservation world is what prompted me to start One Planet Conservation Awareness.
Conservation comes in many forms, which is necessary to deal with the complex different environmental and social issues we’re facing today. With complex issues come an array of different solutions, which is part of what makes conservation so amazing.
Much like the problems we’re faced with, the solutions differ from country to country, project to project. Having spent the past two years working with sea turtles in Malaysia, I witnessed this firsthand. Each project along the coast faced various, localised problems that they must deal with, and therefore need different solutions. From the legal sale of turtle eggs to bycatch and boat strikes, the issues faced by local conservationists are diverse. To address the egg trade, we bought the eggs directly from the traders and tender holders to put into our hatchery, providing them with an alternative income source. We also worked closely with tourist boats and their operators to address a wider range of issues linked with tourism impacts.
Projects need imaginative, hardworking and passionate people to dedicate their time to selflessly produce solutions that will benefit species, habitats and local communities alike. Many of these conservation leaders dedicate their lives to their mission, often these means making social sacrifices in their lives.
This is why I created One Planet Conservation Awareness. I wanted to share important, global issues such as climate change, wildlife trade and deforestation, as well as the personal stories to celebrate the lives of the people and the projects striving to protect our planet.
Raising awareness about environmental issues has always been an important personal mission for me, as I never felt they got the attention they deserve. This became even clearer to me whilst living in South East Asia and witnessing the impacts of deforestation. Although key issues such as plastic pollution and climate change are slowly becoming part of everyday conversation, it wasn’t always this way. But more importantly, there are still many important conversations that we are yet to have.
Why is it so important for people to be more aware of these issues? Without knowledge of the problems or information on the solutions, how can we expect people to stand up and start making the changes necessary? I always believed that it is extremely important to give everyone access to the news and information on all the issues our natural world is facing.
The truth is that there are lots of people around the world, pouring their heart and soul into their work. Whether that is living in a remote jungle to collect data on rare primates, rescuing species that have been traded in illegal markets or fighting for more systemic change, their achievements should be recognised and celebrated. One Planet Conservation Awareness sets out to celebrate these people and share their stories. Our hope is that by doing so, we can inspire people to engage with real-world conservation efforts and build admiration for those people who are fighting hard to protect our planet. Through this, we hope that people will start making changes to their own lives and realise that we can all make a difference.
We have put together a vast network of grassroots projects from all around the world, each working on different aspects of wildlife conservation. From the Bwindi Development Network working with rural communities in Uganda to preserve mountain gorillas, to Kenya’s Conservation Education Society advocating for marine life, to 1StopBorneo’s tree planting project to connect wildlife habitats, we aim to help them raise awareness and funding to further their amazing efforts. Together, we produce eye-catching videos to engage potential sponsors and show people how they can help from home.