Notes from the Conservation Front Line
It was a gloomy Friday morning and biologist, conservationist, and overall adventurer, Niall McCann, had just gotten back home to the United Kingdom. He was fresh off a string of talks in New Jersey, taking audiences on his journey, Notes from the Conservation Front Line. In his talk, he sheds a light on his worldly adventures but advocates for the importance of conservation and expresses that everyone can play a role, no matter how big or small.
“People are the problem and the solution,” which is a sentiment that Niall takes close to heart. Four years ago, Niall lobbied the Honduran government to help protect a threatened National Park, which allowed for more hands-on patrolling to hinder poaching and extinction. Niall is proud of his efforts and seeing them pay off. Since the patrolling began, not one endangered Tapir has been killed.
More recently, Niall has established a charity called, National Parks Rescue (NPR), focused on stopping the current genocide of all animals but specifically lions, rhinos, and elephants. “The National Park Rescue came about through the realization of two things. Firstly, that the conservation crisis is ongoing, worldwide. Endangered animals are still being killed at an unsustainable rate. And secondly, that the current conservation efforts are not working.” Over the past 100 years, these three mammals have lost at least 93% of their species and at the current slaughter rate; they will all be gone in ten years. NPR takes direct action and is not a donor body that just disperses funds to existing non-governmental organizations. In their last nine month operation in Malawi, they proved that direct action works, resulting in the arrest of 75 poachers, the destruction of 10,000 lethal traps and transformation of the ranger force.
Unlike Niall, most can’t be on the ground in Honduras changing conservation techniques or starting anti-poaching operations in Africa but there is always another way to support the cause. He speaks of the ever growing presence of social media and how these “arm-chair activists” can directly make a change. “What we are noticing now is that there is an impressive movement of environmental engaged young people, who I suppose are fighting against the negativity of the older generation. Signing petitions or writing to their local politicians, that really does make a difference.”
Though Niall is hopeful in our younger generation, he recognizes that many people still do not understand what is happening globally. The current president-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, is a proponent of the global warming hoax theory. He is also likely to pull out of the Paris Agreement, an agreement signed by 195 countries to help curb greenhouse emissions. Niall is skeptical of the immediate future. “He is a dangerous man. Not only him, but the cabinet he is putting in place. They don’t have the faintest understanding of science or really care. These are they types of people who only care about the bottom-line and the bottom-line only.”
To no surprise, Niall is resilient and uses the negativity to fuel the fire and to keep pushing ahead stronger than ever. “What this does, it tells the world scientists that our job is not yet done. There must be no room for misinterpretation of the reality of climate change, of the reality species extinction, of the reality of ecosystems services making an enormous contribution to global welfare. We have to fight and we must resist.” —-MH, Nov. 2016