There is a lot going on with the ICARUS group right now. Some of us are in the field working on both ICARUS stuff, and other conservation projects, others are working on contacts and financial backers, while others are getting ready to head into the field for research…. and one of us is getting ready to go camping on vacation… *crosses fingers nothing goes amiss between now an then*
But the one thing that all of us share, no matter how far apart we are, or what we happen to be doing, is that we all live our lives as conservationists. You don’t need to stand on street corners with picket signs in order to live as a conservationist – though, honestly, sometimes standing on street corners with picket signs is completely warranted and a good way (if done calmly and concisely) to help spread awareness.
However, you don’t need to do that, in order to spread conservation awareness. All you need to do is to act and think like a conservationist. Signing and sharing petitions can help, but the truth is that many petitions have little impact on matters of conservation. Hug conglomerates have entire divisions devoted to getting around those petitions, and unless there is proof of violations of law, simply petitioning them to do something differently, will not actually force them to change. However, if you see an individual harming the environment, you can politely and concisely say something to them about it, and discuss what they could do differently.
This could be in regard to anything at all that effects the world around us or the animals in it. If a friend has found a baby animal and decided to try and raise it as a pet, let them know how damaging that is to the animal if they aren’t a professionally trained rehabilitator. The fact that they’re your friend should make it easier to talk to them, rather than harder. If you see someone throwing trash down, don’t simply shake your head and pick it up. Call their attention to the fact that you saw them do it. Yes, they might respond sarcastically, or tell you to mind your own business, but what you have to remember is that anything which hurts your environment, and the world you live in is your business. The person throwing trash out and walking away isn’t thinking in terms of the fact that that trash is going to be someone else’s problem for anywhere from a few months to a few thousand years, because it’s not going to just vaporize the moment it hits the ground.
Conservation is a mindset and way of life. It means speaking out – respectfully, but passionately – whenever you’re given the opportunity to spread awareness about something. It means seeing yourself as the voice of the animals and planet, even though it might be difficult. The little actions are every bit as important as the larger ones. If you confront someone about throwing out garbage, and then pick it up, and a child witness this, you are influencing that child – anyone, really – who watches the interaction. It is easy to say you are a conservationist, but it is much more difficult to live as one, because it means you must be conscientious of the world around you.
That said, acting conservatively does not mean you can’t go out and have fun, it just means you need to think about the things most people never spare a thought for. Heading to a local high school football game? If they happen to be one of the shockingly many teams with a live big cat (or other exotic animal) on the sidelines as a mascot, reconsider going to the game. Or attend, but also write a letter to the school board, or local representatives explaining why having a live mascot like that is animal cruelty, and animal exploitation. While you’re at the game, if people around you are exclaiming how awesome it is for the kids to have a live mascot, speak up, and explain that it’s not awesome for the animal at all. You will likely meet with argument, but you don’t have to agree with it. The very fact that you speak out will influence people, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time. Children, in particular, are sponges for information. Even the child of someone who believes that the live mascot is a great thing, might hear your opposition to it, and in our world of technology, go home and research conservation.
Remember, you cannot know something until you learn it, and you cannot learn until someone teaches you. It’s up to all of us to spread our knowledge to others. The information might lay fallow within the minds of some, but in others, it will grow into a vast forest of understanding, and continue to influence them, and subsequently whoever they spread that understanding to, for the rest of their lives.
So as we go about our lives, researching subjects in the field, making contacts, or enjoying nature, remember that conservation is not a passive word. It is an active, growing and evolving one, and we all are responsible for feeding it, and promoting that growth and evolution.
Featured photo is from my last trip west, which included Yellowstone, and Hebgen Lake. Yellowstone was a unique conglomeration of avid conservationists, and completely opposite and grossly ignorant tourists, who often had to be stopped from doing things like wondering off trail, or trying to touch the bison or shoo them off the road. Lots of information was offered during that trip…
I had other photos but WordPress wouldn’t show them for some reason.
Author: Artemis Grey