Reduce, reduce, recycle has been something that most of us, have recited since our primary school days.
As much as we can make it our personal mission to create awareness for conservation, these women are the ones on the front line, championing the campaigns that we follow.
This Women’s month, we honour these women for their efforts:
1. Dr Klaudia Schachtschneider (Programme Manager, Water Stewardship, WWF South Africa)
When Dr Klaudia started working almost 20 years ago, she had an idealistic view of conservation. ‘I worked to protect parts of the environment because they have an intrinsic right to be there. I thought I was helping to protect something special, separate to me, that did not have a voice’ says Dr Schachtschneider.
Today, 20 years and 2 children later, she understands that conservation means safeguarding the ecological infrastructure that makes all life possible. She would love for everyone to adopt a conservation mind-set and live it in everyday life.
‘Be informed, be curious, get engaged, be urgent in your actions and communicate this urgency to your own children. You can get engaged in interest groups, or organise your own family. Do not expect to be completely green in one fell swoop. It is a journey.’ says Dr Klaudia.
2. Dr Theressa Frantz (Head Environmental Programmes at WWF South Africa)
To Dr Theressa Frantz conservation means taking care of the things that our lives depend on. ‘We all rely on our natural resources in one way or another – such as air, water, food, fresh produce, meat, fish and nature for our enjoyment or spirituality. Our behaviour impacts all of the ecosystems,’ she says.
One of her dreams for us as the public, is for us to be aware of the importance of nature in our lives by stopping wasteful practices. ‘Don’t waste water, food, electricity and don’t litter. More importantly, if you see family and friends doing any of these then speak up and tell them why they should not be wasting our precious resources,’ says Theressa.
3. Nelisiwe Vundla (Community Development and Learning Lead with WWF South Africa)
‘Custodianship is in the interest of my identity!’ says Nelisiwe. She believes our relationship with the environment is personal, but the results are public. Every day choices place one at the forefront of conservation; from using just enough water, avoiding single-use plastics like earbuds and straws and even choosing to report suspected illegal wildlife trade activities. She says, ‘anyone can share their stories about the beauty of this world, inspire others to protect the environment for all times to come to perpetuate to our children’s children the immeasurable jewel that we have come to enjoy our entire lives.’
4. Kirtanya Lutchminarayan (Project officer for the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI)
Kirtanya believes conservation has been created by humans for humans, to methodically protect and preserve our natural environment and foster a harmonious co-existence.
‘Our entire biosphere is alive and every species has a role to play in regulating conditions that make life on our planet possible. Conservation therefore truly begins through a sense of wonder of these diverse life forms, coupled with the fascinating science explaining it’ she says.
For Kirtanya, every small action can amount to big change and tip the scale toward a more sustainable future. Sharing stories and information through social media channels can create massive awareness of pertinent conservation issues locally and globally. When we think about the impact our actions have on the environment, and choose to be a conscious consumer through your daily lifestyle choices – water, food, transport, energy, etc.
5. Dr Paula Kahumbu (CEO of Wildlife Direct)
Dr Paula Kahumbu, studied elephants for her PhD at Princeton University and have been involved in elephant conservation since 1988. She runs WildlifeDirect, a Kenya based charity that seeks to change hearts and minds and law so that Africa’s wildlife can endure forever. ‘We seek to connect people to wildlife and empower them to act to conserve it. As CEO I’m responsible for many different aspects of WildlifeDirect from developing strategies, making TV series, doing research, training students, and writing educational materials.’ she says.
Dr Paula believes conservation is as necessary for humanity as oxygen. ‘We cannot survive if our air, water and food are polluted, conservation is the protection of ecosystems to ensure that they can continue to sustain us with fresh air, clean water, and healthy food.’ she says. Conservation of wildlife is about respecting all species and protecting them not just because we benefit from them now. Dr Paula takes people to the field to meet elephants in Kenya, they are so surprised at how calm the elephants are. ‘I have been blessed by elephants that walk up to me in my car, and reach out with their trunk to inhale the air in my car, they are gentle, respectful and sensitive.’ she says. You can also help spread the word by following Wild Life Direct on twitter @wildlifedirect, and @amarula, and sharing their hashtags #DontLetThemDisappear and #WorldElephantDay.
6. Dr Jo Shaw (Senior Manager of our Wildlife Programme)
‘Conservation is my passion and my driver. To me, it means celebrating and protecting the great circle of life on earth around us.’ says Dr Jo Shaw.
South Africa has some of the most magnificent wildlife remaining on the globe. The protected areas, and incredible animals like rhinos and elephants, not only bring inspiration and awe but also tourism and jobs, yet are under immense pressure.
Dr Jo Shaw believes everyone can be an ambassador for conservation and for nature. ‘Take a little time in your day to appreciate the shade from the trees, the sound of the birds, the smell of rain on dry earth and share the sensation with someone to convert them too. Everyone needs to be aware not only how beautiful nature but to understand just what a vital role it plays in providing us with clean air and water. We need to share our knowledge and rally others to become conservationists at heart too.’ she says.
Are there any women in conservation in your community, that you want to celebrate? Comment in the box to show them love.