My passion for animals later turned into a passion for their conservation after learning about endangered species’ statuses at zoos, TV heroes like Steve Irwin and through World Wildlife Fund. The question of how people can poach these wonderful animals or destroy their habitat began swirling in my head. I felt like I couldn’t protect them. I was just in grade school after all, but I learned I was able to make small changes in my life like using reusable water bottles and recycling to help the environment. And so I did. As I got older, this wasn’t enough for me to feel as though I was helping, so I found an opportunity to be more hands on.
The first time I worked with an endangered animal was when I traveled to South Africa to rehab African penguins. It was such an exciting experience that built my appreciation for all the hard work that goes into saving endangered species – it was the best workout of my life. You learn so much about a species when you work with them. For instance, African penguins are incredibly strong and like to defecate on your crocs. What else was great was that during these life-changing experiences, you will work alongside like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds throughout the world who become life-long friends (shout out to all my SANCCOB people!).
While I may not reach the amount of people Steve Irwin had, it is a great feeling to know I may have touched a few people’s lives and got them interested in conservation. The world needs conservationists. They are the ones that decide if a species goes extinct by being the voice for these animals. You can start your love of conservation in small ways like I had; use a reusable water bottle, recycle, clean up liter on a beach in your community. These actions will grow and so will your positive effects on our planet. I wish you all the best on your conservation journey, and I hope you help others start a conservation journey of their own.