Happy “Wild About Wildlife” Month! Throughout July, we celebrate the amazing wildlife species found on this incredible planet (although hopefully you’re thinking about them and making decisions that positively impact them throughout the whole year). Anyway, right now, let’s highlight some of my favorite animals: African Savannah species!
In the spring of 2021, I had the opportunity to re-visit my (so far) favorite country – Kenya! This time around, my primary focus was on photography (as that’s what I was brought out to do) and had the amazing privilege to photograph the landscape, wildlife, and culture of Kenya.
As I photographed animal after animal and learned more about Kenyan Ecology and conservation efforts, I wondered how long it would take for many of the species I photographed to no longer exist. There were large tracts of land that I had been to before years ago that now had lots of roads cutting through. Construction was happening in what felt like every direction. The human population is increasing rapidly and this definitely impacts wildlife habitat.
As habitat is fragmented by roads, or reduced as agriculture demands increase, wildlife is forced into smaller and smaller ranges. Many animals require large ranges in order to thrive and successfully pass their genes along to the next generation. When the ranges dwindle, so does the animals ability to have the space it needs to survive. As human-caused Climate Change continues at an exponential rate, suitable agriculture space also decreases and the need to expand crop ranges increases. Desertification continues and the search for water is on the minds of not just animals, but people as well.
Fortunately, the overall Kenyan population seems to be very pro-conservation, even understanding the ecological role or cultural importance of animals that have common human-wildlife conflicts. Conservation biologists, Wildlife Managers, Park Rangers, Veterinarians, and other scientists are working alongside policy makers and the general public to ensure that these amazing species are protected.
So, what species are getting a lot of conservation attention?
While not all of the animals seen above are technically listed as “Endangered”, they are all “Vulnerable”. The Giraffe, Grey Crowned Crane and African Elephant are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered. The Giraffe, Cheetah, Lion, and Hippopotamus are listed as Vulnerable.
Vulnerable simply means that the species population is declining in such a way that without conservation efforts, the animal will go extinct, however, with conservation practices put into place, the animal population will recover nicely. Endangered means that the animal has surpassed the Vulnerable status and without clear and serious laws put into place and enforced the animal will surely become extinct. Even with many conservation programs put into place, the amount of work it will take to bolster the population is extreme, but not impossible.
All around the world, all living things are connected. What actions we take, regardless of how geographically far away from Kenya we are, impact Kenyan wildlife and their habitats. By being good stewards of the environment where we live, we can positively impact these endangered and vulnerable animals we love. As we mitigate climate change where we can, we can positively impact the climate of places all around the globe, such as Kenya!
Anne Marie Bonneau said it well, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” Every action we take, no matter how small it may seem to us, can make a huge impact when multiplied by millions, or billions of people. Conserve the animals you love. Protect their habitats, and make the world a brighter, greener place!
Did you know that a portion of all proceeds here on The Art of Ecology are donated back to wildlife conservation, habitat preservation, and environmental education efforts? While you shop, you not only support this artist and ecologist, but you also support the planet you live on.