Peace Between Nature and Ourselves – a slight change of mindset 3L Louis CHAN and 5J Jessica FU
The Elephant Foundation (TEF) Talk on the 7th November with guest speaker, Mr Richard Turere, a Maasai Warrior from Kenya, was an eye-opening experience. The speaker kept us all engaged with his sharing; and the videos brought all things to life.
In Mr Turere’s community, lions living nearby had attacked people’s cattle which ended up in the loss of a lot of cows. So unfortunately to protect the livelihood of these farmers, the lions had to be culled resulting in fewer than 2000 surviving in Kenya. This was a 50% decrease within 50 years. However, what was not foreseen is that this measure led to a fall in tourism in Kenya as many tourists would come to see these ‘big cats’.
Having noticed the drastic decline in the number of lions, through trial and error, Mr Turere came up with a solution. Ideas had ranged from using fires to scare the lions away, to scarecrows. Neither helped. Finally, after further study, the solution came in the form of ‘Lion Lights’, which are flashing lights powered by solar energy. These lights were installed on poles around farms to scare lions away. Winners are both the cattle and the lions.
Apart from the lions, speaker Mr Colin Dawson, the co-founder of TEF, also drew our attention to endangered species like the rhinos and the elephants. While it is a known fact that the main component of rhino horns is keratin, a protein found in our hair and nails, some people still mistakenly believe that it serves a medical function and thus are eager to purchase these horns. This inevitably leads to an increase in poaching. We are also responsible for the rise in the deaths of elephants killed for their ivory.
We have truly learnt a lot from the The Elephant Foundation Talk. Killing lions was traditionally considered a sign of power but Mr Turere’s story has proved that protecting lions is a demonstration of a different kind of power. This is an important shift in thinking. It is an idea saying that we should not follow conventional practices for the sake of convenience without analyzing the issues ourselves. Likewise, the aesthetic value of ivory and the false medical function of rhino horns should never be our guiding principles when taking the lives of the endangered species.
We need to be empowered to make informed decisions by improving our knowledge of nature and being aware of how our consumption impacts other living things which we share the planet with. We can all be and should be the guardians of wildlife.