3-minute read

Bears, Elephants, Tigers… It’s Been a Wild Ride!

author

Chris Annadorai

Chris heads up the content team at Our Better World. He grew up on a diet of curry, camping, watching BBC wildlife documentaries, and social work. It fed his desire to become a storyteller.

Three and a half years ago, when Our Better World (OBW) was exploring topics for development into a new series, wildlife conservation was one idea I wanted to bring to the table. We had done a few wildlife stories prior to that, but I felt strongly that there was more we could do. I shared with the team just how under threat wildlife are, the role humanity has played in this, and why we can and should create greater impact for wildlife conservation. After some discussions, the wildlife series was given the green light.

What followed was a frantic and exciting adventure that spanned three years, seven countries, nine different wild species and dozens of people to collaborate with.

And now as our wildlife series comes to its end, I find myself quietly content, but just as restless in wanting to continue making a difference for wildlife, and wanting to get more people to care deeper. This is my “forever” mission.

Tiger
There are less than 150 Malayan tigers remaining in Malaysia's jungles.

I get that it’s not a cause that many “get”. In a world where much of humanity is facing so much adversity, why should we care for wildlife when our own friends, family, fellow humans need our help?

But as individuals, as a society, we have the capacity for expanded compassion. When our families grow, we don’t moderate the affection we have for each one, our capacity for affection grows. Just like that, we too can expand our compassion to care for both people AND wildlife. Especially when both rely on each other.

Monkey
The long-tailed macaque is a monkey species commonly found in Singapore.

Wildlife plays a critical role in keeping the ecosystem balanced. Predators, for example, keep prey populations under control so that crops are not wiped out. Animals disperse seeds and pollinate plants, so that forests thrive, supplying us with timber, food, medicine, clean air and water, and storing our carbon. Without wildlife, we will be negatively impacted, whether we live in cities or in the countryside.

So we care for wildlife because we can, and because we need to.

Pangolin
A pangolin gets medical attention. Pangolins are the most trafficked mammals in the world.

Getting people to care wasn’t an easy mission, especially when this series came to life at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when fears of diseases spreading from animals to humans abounded, and animosity towards wildlife increased. Worst timing ever to launch a wildlife series? No, because that made this series more relevant than ever.

It wasn’t going to be easy though. From the first variant of COVID-19, to Delta, to Omicron, each strain of the virus led to a fresh surge in infections and lockdowns, which made it extremely challenging to find and film stories.

But solidarity breeds conviction. With the support of the selfless people working in the NGOs, the local communities living in harmony with wildlife, the passionate storytellers who were in the field, and the dedication of everyone in the OBW team, we found our way and our voice.

Rhino
Forty nine endangered Indian rhinos roam free in Manas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Assam, India.

And you, our community, you heard us. You watched our stories and you took action. Thanks to your efforts, we’ve had over 130,000 individual actions taken (donate, volunteer, support, share, etc) and counting. You then shared with us how you felt, with 82 per cent of you caring more for wildlife, and with over 81 per cent of you wanting to make a difference for wildlife after having seen the series in 2020 and 2021. It gave me such a buzz when I read survey responses such as “wildlife are part of the universe and have rights. We all are connected so we should be in sync with wildlife and animals.” I’m excited to see the impact from our 2022 Community Conservation edition.

This was a personal validation to me. That all the effort has been worth it. But there’s no rest for the weary no rest for the restless. There is still so much that needs to be done for wildlife. So many threatened species need our help. I’m heartened and emboldened that there are so many of us now coming together to make a difference.

As this series comes to an end, it is my desire that we all continue to grow a deeper appreciation for the wild lives we share this planet with, and stand up for them so that we can create a better world where both people and wildlife can thrive together.

PS: Now that travel restrictions are loosening around the region, there are many truly magical and wild places where you can discover some of Asia’s most stunning wildlife. Places that are a testament to the wonderful critical work being done by wildlife NGOs and the local communities, such as this one. So travel, be mesmerised by our wildlife and be inspired to protect them. Stay wild OBW community, see you in the rainforests!

Eagle
The Philippine eagle is under threat of extinction. There are only 400 mating pairs left.

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