Showing posts from November, 2013

In my next life, please don't bring me back as a fur seal

I've just got back from a two-week trip around Namibia (and briefly, Zambia) seeing the sights and relaxing with my boyfriend.  One of our last stops was to be the Cape Cross Seal Colony, which harbours thousands of Cape seals who raise their pups along the coastline.  Although I had been forewarned about the smell of these marine mammals, I had not quite prepared myself for the sickening stench emanating from the entire area.  As soon as we got out of the car, I nearly gagged; this was a pungent, decomposing, musky smell that I have never before encountered.
Even still, I was excited to be there, especially as it was pup season.  As we got closer however, I begun to realise that part of the smell was in fact coming from the pups, or at least, the hundreds of dead ones scattered across the beach.  Presumably, they were stillborn, crushed by the thousands of other seals all fighting for a prime space, or their mother had not come back from the sea and so had starved to death.  It w…

Egos in conservation threaten effectiveness

I've been involved in conservation now for 5 years, and in that short time, I've had a reasonable amount of experience dealing with various levels and sizes of conservation NGOs, along with environmental departments of governments.

One thing that has struck me as an important factor limiting the productivity of our actions is the severe unwillingness to cooperate with each other.  We all harp on about collaborating with the locals to ensure our conservation actions are met with a certain amount of acceptance on the ground, but what we certainly are not good at yet is working together with fellow NGOs.

Now wait a minute: I know, I know, there are exceptions to this rule, but from my understanding of this situation, collaborations are often awkward, passive-aggressive affairs undertaken more so for increased chance of donor funding or selfish gain rather than anything else.

During my year-long internship at BirdLife Malta, I was exposed to the power of collaboration and cooperat…