“Conservation is essential for the survival of our species.”
Spending a week with our good friend, ex-game ranger Paul Dutton, gave us the opportunity for many conversations about the state of the world that we live in. The crisis in rhino poaching has sharpened the focus on the natural environment and brought people together from around the world to work toward a common goal of saving the rhino. But that’s only part of the story.
Paul was a life-long friend of Dr Ian Player, who had a great influence on his life, as he did on our own. Ian is known as the man who ‘saved the rhino’, but he did much more than that in his lifetime, he brought many people to a realisation of the importance of wilderness; the absolutely crucial role that wilderness and all it represents plays in the life of our planet, and ourselves.
Nature can recover if left on its own; weeds sprout through cracks in the pavement and trees grow wherever birds drop seeds. Humans are in a constant battle to ‘tame’ nature- to take the wildness out of our world. But if we make time to reflect, we will see how our custodianship of wilderness needs to be addressed right now- at this point in time, because of so many factors that are contributing to the torture of the environment.
Wilderness and wild places are the ‘resevoirs of life’ for all ecosystems. Without them, there would be no wildlife: no rhino, no big five, no small mammals, no birds, or trees. There would be an ever-shrinking natural world. In time, there would be no respite from development or human encroachment; no place for quiet, fresh air, clear skies, green space or true wild-life. We would lose our connection to the earth, that which makes us compassionate beings capable of respect for other species, and people.
Dr Player said it better than I ever could, “The greatest experience, is to walk in the African bush, amongst the animals, on an ancient, archetypal journey into ourselves.”