When saving wild animals gets in the way

 I learn more about saving wild animals, I noticed a recurring “Us versus Them” theme. Do we humans lose jobs/products or do we save wild animals?

Us or Them

For instance, back in the 1990s some cast the conversation about saving the Spotted Owl in Washington State (U.S) as “Who are you for? Humans making a living? Or some bird in the forest?”

Truth is, people didn’t lose jobs because of environmental restrictions. Actually, logging companies mechanized the process. More mechanization = fewer humans needed.

But the “jobs or owls” argument worked if you wanted to continue to cut down those forests.

I’m now wary of “us versus them” arguments

Because it limits our ability to have real conversations. And it limits solutions to either/or.

Seems to me that our needs (human needs) – as well as wild animal needs – must be part of the solution if we’re going to keep this world viable for wild animals.

Orangutans, palm oil and wild animal trafficking

I read an article about a young man who thought the only way to make a living was to capture and sell a baby Orangutan. I was deeply troubled.

There’s more to the story, of course – palm oil is a huge problem for orangutans as they lose their rain forest to palm fields. I can’t share more of this particular story without crying. You are warned to have hankies ready if you read the whole story. But my hope is that other job opportunities open up for this young man and others like him.

The Orangutan Project

I now support The Orangutan Project to help repatriate stolen orangutans and buy forest land they can live on safely to raise their families.

Its Centre for Orangutan Protection comprises local people “who campaign to bring an urgent end to the destruction of Indonesian rain forest and the killing of orangutans. COP operates numerous teams in the field to run its programs.”

Notice how this project supports both wild animals and local people – it’s not “us or them.”

African national parks that protect wildlife

African Parks does great work, too. They developed a private organization to run national parks for about 11 African governments.

With funding from a number of partners, they take the parks back from the poachers. They clear out snares, repopulate parks with wild animals and protect them from the poachers.

And they employ local folks. Another win-win for humans and wild animals. I support this charity, too.

The Great American Outdoors Act

Here in Virginia, I learned that our own Senator Mark Warner has endorsed a bill called The Great American Outdoors Act.

The act has two aims. It addresses the maintenance needs for Virginia’s national parks and permanently provide funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Senator Warner shares, “The truth is, this legislation is not just the most significant investment in our public lands in a generation – it’s also an investment in our outdoor economy that will support an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs.” 

More natural outdoor space for wild animals and more jobs for people – yeah!

Read my blog, Meeting Animals in Africa.


There are many ways to save wild animals. My blog is just one thought. I’d love to hear what calls to you!

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