Why do we travel, what joys does it bring us?
A lot of people travel for the leisure and relaxation it offers: chilling in spa baths and drinking champagne while at it; wanderlust, where the call of the open tugs at your heart; the thought of being lost and immersed in unknown cultures; or even the route that appeals most to your culinary senses.
Others travel because it’s a bucket list item, where they must see particular wildlife, be in a certain place, or meet certain people before their time on earth is done.
Even more often, we travel for work – a quick stop in between work and business meetings, a few Instagram photos and Snaps to make your co-workers and friends jealous, and a night out in town to celebrate a business deal, or drown the sorrows of losing a pitch.
However, there’s a great deal of people who travel in quieter circles, more interested in learning about the environment they visit and nurturing it. Conservationists are a lucky lot, I think, they get the best deal out of a wanderlust filled life: taking care of our natural resources, and enjoying the benefits of living in the wild outdoors.
That’s how I came to meet a bunch of guys from the World Wildlife Fund, aka WWF (not to be confused with the World Wrestling Federation, now known as World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), as Owaahh made it clear).
When you walk into the WWF office, the first thing that greets you is the large colorful elephant at the door: made from recycled rubber flip-flops (slippers, as we call them in Kenya), the elephant makes you wonder why we have all these discarded shoes on the beach. The guys at Ocean Sole are amazing at recycling them into useful artefacts that can live on in your office or home.
Around the offices, you can’t miss out the giant panda logo, with it’s stark black and white color, yet so cuddly. I think they must have chosen the panda not just for the story behind Chi Chi (read Owaah’s blog again for the story), but for the cuddly feel it must represent. I mean, who doesn’t love pandas? They roll around, playfully tease their keepers, and are generally super cute.
The WWF team though doesn’t travel for luxury and leisure – they’re the guys working hard to ensure that we get to enjoy the benefits of natural resources. From Forests, Oceans, Wildlife, Food, Climate & Energy, and Water, WWF focuses on conservation work relevant to Kenya’s socio-economic development needs.
And they’ve been here a long time! The Fund was established in 1961, and quickly embarked on securing 188M2 (37,000 acres) of land to create what is now the Lake Nakuru National Park. Nearly 30 bird species depend on the lake, including a million flamingoes for which the lake is the principle feeding ground. They then pushed focus into conserving our precious black rhino population, successfully helping re-establish the decimated population after the poaching massacres of the 1980s. A census in 2004 showed that the effort paid off, with the population rising to 3,600 black rhinos, a substantial increase from the 2,400 left in the 1990s—and 11,000 white rhinos, up from fewer than 100 a century ago.
— Captain Ozwald (❤️) (@VinieO) October 24, 2016
I think being a conservationist is one of the toughest jobs out there – you’ve got to convince the local people to preserve their heritage, whose value they may not realize till it’s gone. And you’ve got to do this from your own funds, challenging local governments and powers that be to help you work towards a common goal. As travelers, we often get to see the benefits of conservation and protection of our resources. We should try and work harder to be involved in projects that replenish what we use on this earth, so that we don’t just enjoy it, but the generations to come do so too. With WWF now established as a local NGO in Kenya, I believe it will be more beneficial to Kenyans.
I hope that as you travel, you appreciate the little joys that are the wild outdoors, and that we work harder to conserve it better.