For many the future is, well, the future. It’s something that will happen eventually. Something they’ll face when tomorrow gets here. Something they don’t want to waste today worrying about. For others, the future is something they strive to shape and change, something that they spend all of their todays working on, so that they can make a better tomorrow.
The ICARUS team sees the future slightly differently. We see the future the way animals see it. We see the future as now.
For the hundreds of thousands of captive exotic animals, and suffering native wildlife across the globe, the word ‘future’ is meaningless. Animals do not concern themselves about what might happen, about how someone might help them, about how laws might change in order to protect them. The concept of a future, is a purely human one. For animals, there is only now. Thus, the ICARUS team looks at conservation in the terms of ‘What can I do now, this very instant, in the name of animals and conservation?’
Don’t be mistaken, we plan for the future. The ICARUS team sees the long term changes we want to make, how we want to effectuate the evolution of conservation until the evolution itself negates the need for conservation to exist at all, and we have plans for how to aid in that evolution. But every movement, every step, begins with the flexing of minute muscles, which happens now, to drive and perpetuate the larger motion that follows.
In conservation terms, that means little actions done today are every bit as vital as the huge events which might occur as a result later. By now, you’ve heard of Cecil the lion, and the tragedy of his death. If you’ve shared a post about him, you’ve done something to aid conservation. Don’t shrug and say ‘It was just a post I shared.’ In our world of social media and Internet activity, sharing one post can potentially create an interaction with thousands of people. If you saw a post about someone defending trophy hunters, or worse, suggesting that canned hunting is acceptable, and could somehow ‘fix’ the problem of trophy hunting, and you took a few minutes to calmly and concisely rebut that post, then you’ve done something to aid conservation.
Think of the future the way an animal does. Think of it as now. Help a turtle cross the road. It takes a few minutes out of your life, but those few minutes might be the difference between a lifespan of seventy-five years or seventy-five seconds for the turtle. If you see a garden spider in your window, choose to leave it alone. Simply not removing it and its web means the difference between survival and death for the garden spider, and you didn’t have to do anything except allow it to share the outside of your window. Never underestimate how much one small act might have an immense effect on the world around you.
A prime example of this is the recent phenomenon of celebrities taking selfies with captive big cat cubs, or even adult big cats, and then posting them to their Instagram and Facebook accounts. It’s takes little more than a few seconds to do this, yet the ramifications are exponential. With millions of fans around the world, the celebrities are setting the precedent that wild animals are a commodity, an accessory to be flaunted, a toy to be played with and coddled, photographed and subsequently forgotten about. The truth is that fully 100% of the big cat cubs you see in these celebrity selfies will live a life of caged captivity, a life often grossly shortened by either malnutrition, disease, or the fact that once the cubs make it to adulthood, they’ll be sold into the canned hunting industry, or used as breeders to produce more cubs for more selfies with celebrities and tourists for however long their bodies can hold out. And then they’ll die. A disposable commodity no different from last year’s had-to-have purse style. It is an irrefutable truth, despite that the self-proclaimed sanctuaries who allow this behavior argue against it.
It’s the nature of social media to allow for this massive spread of ideas and information, and the grand part is that everyone has the capacity for achieving it. One small act began the popularity of these ‘big cat selfies’ and small acts can help to counter it. To this end, the Tiger Selfie app was developed. It’s just $0.99 at the App Store, and 50% of profits from the sales go to Tiger Sanctuaries in the U.S. many of whom were rescued from ‘pay-to-play’ schemes.
Simply buy the app, and use it to create your own ‘big cat selfie’. Then share it on Facebook, or Twitter, and help spread understanding about how taking selfies with real big cats doesn’t actually help conservation, but rather feeds the underworld of captive big cat breeding, and subsequently canned hunting and other abusive situations.
It only takes a few minutes out of your day, but it can make a difference. It’s something small that you can do now. And now is the only thing that exists for the animals who are suffering across the globe. Don’t wait for a better tomorrow when you can create a better today.
Author: Artemis Grey