As the 21st century progresses, our fight to protect our planet is becoming increasingly urgent. Last year, wildfires blazing in the Arctic Circle set new emissions records, the Atlantic hurricane season raged stronger than ever before, and we came to the end of the hottest decade ever recorded.
A recent study that attempts to quantify environmental damage revealed that 97% of Earth’s land area may no longer be “ecologically intact,” resulting in reduced animal populations and loss of species.
The theme for this year’s Earth day is Restore Our Earth. As parts of the world start opening up after a year of Covid-induced lockdowns, the event’s organizers are putting out a call for action and highlighting the importance of combating environmental destruction.
“The theme rejects the notion that mitigation or adaptation are the only way to address climate change,” says Earth Day board member and leading environmental sociologist Dorceta E. Taylor.
“We cannot put off for tomorrow what we can do today,” she says. “Everyone must do their part.”
Our dedication at African Safari Co., of course, has a heavy focus on Africa but there are endless opportunities to pitch in around the world in the name of conservation. Here are some amazing projects currently ongoing.
Captured as chicks and kept as status symbol pets in the gardens of hotels and private homes, Rwanda’s Grey Crowned Cranes were almost wiped out. Destruction of their habitat for agriculture added to the pressure and by 2012, only around 300 remained in the wild. Then, these majestic birds made a remarkable comeback thanks to the local vet and conservationist Olivier Nsengimana, who spearheaded a program encouraging owners to surrender their pets. However, the Cranes are still popular as pets and under threat in other African Countries.
Eastern Egg Rock, an uninhabited seven-acre island six miles of the coast of Maine, was almost stripped of its Atlantic Puffin population when hunters arrived in the late 19th century. Ornithologist Stephen Kress first encountered the seabirds over 50 years ago. On learning how threatened they are, he founded Project Puffin, an initiative to bring them back to the New England state. Thanks to Kress’s efforts, nearly 200 breeding pairs now nest on the island.
Kristine Tompkins, the former CEO of Patagonia, and her late husband Doug (co-founder of The North Face) set up Tompkins Conservation to create National Parks in South America. Among its initiatives, it has created Ibera National Park in Northeast Argentina. It is home to some 4,000 species of plants and animals and when combined with the neighboring Ibera Provincial Park, covers 1.76 million acres – making it the largest protected area in the country.
The arapaima is one of the largest fresh water fish in the world, capable of growing three meters long and weighing 200 kilograms. Overfishing led to population decline in the Amazon River Basin, but two decades of work by conservationists and local communities has helped to establish well-managed fisheries – saving the species while also providing a sustainable income for the local people.
The olive ridley is the most abundant sea turtle, but it’s also at risk of wildlife crimes. Paso Pacifico, a US based conservation group working in Central America, estimates that poachers destroy 90% of sea turtles nests on many of Central America’s unprotected beaches to sell the eggs into illegal wildlife trade. Scientist at Paso Pacifico have developed decoy eggs fitted with SIM cards and GPS transmitters. These are placed in turtle nests to track stolen eggs and combat trafficking.