As you have probably guessed by now, I love zoos. This love started with my love of animals. When I was younger I would copy out animal facts as my made up homework. This eventually turned into a degree in Zoology and a keen interest in wild species throughout the world. Zoos allow me to experience these amazing animals up close, but nothing beats seeing them wild in their natural habitat.
During my final year of school I was able to have the opportunity to go on a research trip to Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. We picked a topic of research and carried it out for two weeks in the middle of no where. I was lucky enough to see the majority of the animals on my must see list: hippos, giraffe, crocodiles, zebra, elephants, and lions. These moments were exhilarating – especially since for the majority of them we were on foot with nothing between us. The sounds of the animals at night would keep us up – the far off (and sometimes not so far off) lions and hyenas, to the warthogs tearing through camp. We learned we had to place our tents in specific spots so we wouldn’t be trampled by hippos when they left the river at night, and that elephants have the best technique of retrieving drinking water. This trip was full of inspiring moments for me and the people I was with…it is so difficult to pick just one. I have always felt inspired to protect the environment and it’s species but I feel that trip showed me how much I took things for granted at home and how much what I did could affect the world.
More than anything my trip inspired me to inspire others to travel. I want others to experience that feeling of making eye contact with a wild lion or seeing a herd of elephants walk by. That feeling you get whether you were a conservationist before or not will change you.
Since my trip four years ago, Selous Game Reserve has been placed on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites under threat. As I mentioned I was able to see most of the animals on my list. I did not see any rhinos, or cheetahs, or painted dogs. An estimated 66% of Selous’ elephants have been poached between 2009 and 2013. Since I know first hand how beautiful this site is I am more inspired to help save it.
For everyone who reads these reviews and features I hope one day you take the opportunity to visit these animals in the wild. Truly get to know the dangers they face due to poaching and climate change. I hope in doing so you will be inspired to start taking steps to change it – big or small.
In the meantime visiting reputable zoos in your area is also playing a part. Through introducing your children to animals and conservation issues at a young age you are encouraging greener practices in the future. By seeing the magnificent animals up close you are nurturing a connection with animals within yourself making the news stories hit closer to home. Even the smallest green changes can have big impacts worldwide.
What is one small thing you can do right now?
Watch Contiki Storytellers video on the sea turtles of Costa Rica.
Contiki has partnered with the Sea Turtle Conservancy and agreed to sponsor a turtle to aid in research if this video reaches 250 000 views – we need your help. Show this to friends, family, and neighbours. Not only will this help with Contiki’s goal but you never know who you will inspire to take action.
As part of Contiki’s Storyteller Challenge I would further like to challenge some of my fellow bloggers to share their travel stories!
The Gut Gazette – hopefully that Alaskan cruise has inspired you!