What We Do Is Hard. What We Do Is Right.

We ran across this powerful Instagram photo a few months ago*. This is Lisa Grahama wildlife veterinarian on the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It's a horribly tragic scene - one that happens far too frequently in her world. And elsewhere. Yet, it is a particularly moving picture as well. We stare at it often. A daily reminder that what we do is hard. 

Every day, thousands of men and women wake up and go about their business. The business of protecting endangered species. The business of guarding threatened habitats. The business of ending illegal fishing. The business of holding the line against evil and ignorance. 

While it is impossible to know everyone's story. One might imagine that our lives are not too indifferent. Connected by similar circumstances. Plenty of dark and lonely days. Some spent out in the hot rugged bush. Sleeping on a cold hard floor - if that lucky, at some freezing remote mountainous location. Eating stale food. Sacrificing family time and friendships - those both suffer terribly. Chasing money to support our efforts. Working your way through a maze of bureaucratic land mines or real ones. Doubting our abilities. There are plenty of doubters along the way for sure.

Then there are the daily images like those above. It's enough to make you think twice. Are we fighting a never ending battle? Can we win this struggle? There are plenty of tragedies and sadness in conservation. 

But there is also good. More than can be listed. 

Every day, we are moved by what is seen on Twitter. On Facebook. Scroll through the news feeds. The spirit of determined individuals, small independent groups and communities that are making a difference. People like Tabi Joda and his reforestation efforts in Africa pop-up as a reminder. Like journalist Ian Urbina who, at great personal risk, exposes the violent underworld of the "Outlaw Ocean". 

The coastal community of Watamu, Kenya and their commitment to preserve what is important to them and all of us; creating Local Ocean Conservation. Our friends at the Snow Leopard Trust roam the mountains and crevasses of the Himalayas on foot and on horse, working with remote communities helping protect and monitor the elusive Snow Leopard.  

And of course, there are the Wildlife and Park Rangers. They're our real inspiration. The reason we got into this business. The real heroes of our world. Like the 135 Rangers and 15 Simba Scouts patrolling the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. The amazing work of Wildlife Alliance and their 114 rangers protecting over 2,000,000 acres of Cardamom rain forest in Cambodia. Of course, there are the well documented African Parks Rangers at Parc National Garamba in the DRC and many thousands more. In Africa. In Asia. In Europe. The Americas and Australia. Far too many to recognize in this short blog. All brave. All inspiring.   

We say this a lot, but don't say it nearly enough: What we are doing is hard. But what we are doing is right. It might not happen at the speed we would have liked it too, but doing good is hard. Being a wildlife vet in South Africa is hard. Patrolling the rain forests in Cambodia is hard. Tracking anything in the Himalayas is hard. What we are doing is hard.

Teddy Roosevelt reminded us that glory and honor come to those “who spend themselves in a worthy cause.”, because at the end of the day, no matter our story, we are not all that indifferent:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

We are not cold. We are not timid. What we are doing is good.

To support our efforts, please visit: www.wildlifeaviationgroup.org ; or write a comment below. Thanks!

* Please follow @benswildlife on Instagram 


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