Chats with conservationists: Biologist on the Trail

Chats with Conservationists: Biologist on the trail | Pigments by Liv

Welcome to the latest blog in the Chats with Conservationists series, where we learn from the front-line of wildlife conservation, what it’s like to choose a career in conservation and what we can do to help. Today, we meet Conservationist Haïg, a.k.a Biologist on the Trail …

Hello there everyone, my name is Haïg aka “Biologist on the trail”. I’m 21 and have just graduated with a BSc in Life & Earth Sciences. I am now starting my MSc in Biodiversity, and have an interesting project to tell you about…

Inspiring a career in wildlife conservation

Since my early childhood, I have always been fascinated by nature. I’ve spent almost my entire life in the countryside, so I grew up in direct contact with the local wildlife. I loved playing in the garden at the back of our house, looking for worms, butterflies and birds. My love for animals wasn’t limited to the living ones, I also used to dig holes with my little tools looking for dinosaur fossil remains!
Wildlife conservation biologist on the trail | Chats with Conservationists

As I grew up, I discovered a love for biology. I was the type of kid who had his own little lab at home! Another teenage hobby of mine was watching documentaries. This was technically the first time I gained interest in wildlife conservation; I learnt about the men and women, individuals and associations working day and night to protect the animals I loved.

It wasn’t until recently that I really started looking further into conservation and seeing how the wildlife around us is threatened and what I could do to help. I wanted to help the real specialists, as I’m just a beginner in this domain. That’s when I thought about how I was going to pave my own way into this huge field of conservation…

A career in wildlife conservation - biologist on the trail | Pigments by Liv

Launching a wildlife conservation project!

For the past two years, I have been thinking about launching a project related to conservation. Going into lockdown during the pandemic finally gave me the necessary time to develop it.

Naturalists et al.

After working on it for about a month, on the 18th of May, a few days before my birthday, “Naturalists et al.” was born. A community project working on recruiting people to educate their fellows on how to contribute to conservation in their own way. As the name itself suggests, it’s about merging the work of specialists, naturalists here for instance, and that of the “others”; and by others, I mean the regular people, mainly students, but also parents, entrepreneurs, farmers, anyone.

Why is education so important for wildlife conservation?

It’s not a secret that education is a powerful tool, not just in the present but also the future. So why not use it in favour of conservation? As of today, most of the schools around the world don’t even dedicate an hour per week to teaching children about the ongoing problems in nature. And those who do, generally just explain the basics of the problems without giving any clues on ways to solve them.

Here lies the problem within our societies, we are keeping our children, the “generations that will change”, away from the harsh truth. How will they be that change if they aren’t even aware of the problems and solutions? If we rely just on the small proportion of students that will go through scientific education, to become conservationists and solve the problems, it’s a lost battle from now.

When I launched Naturalists et al., I had one goal in mind, educating the most people we can on the problems our common wildlife is facing. Because conservation is not just the mission of a biologist, it also involves every one of us.

Biologist on the trail on wildlife conservation | Pigments by Liv

I came up with this little example: go ahead and plant as many trees as you want, but if you don’t teach the coming generations on the importance of those trees, they will just cut them and all your work will be in vain… This is the quote I built my project on!

Educating about wildlife conservation on a local scale

You would say, we already have international organizations working on raising awareness of wildlife conservation on a global scale, then why launch a project with a similar mission? This is exactly the problem I want to solve; I’m trying to make this awareness available to small communities rather than working with tons of people at once.

I’m recruiting people, specialists and biology students, to build local communities of people of all ages. I call them ambassadors, who are either specialists or students in the different fields of biology. These specialists can host events and other possible activities to pass on the information given by global experts in the easiest ways. These communities then become the next seeds of knowledge to germinate and spread elsewhere.

A particular part of my project relies on giving the same chance given to people in developed countries to people living in remote regions and developing countries. These countries generally don’t have access to global media and therefore all those awareness campaigns.

In conclusion, Naturalists et al. is about recruiting benevolent ambassadors in different regions, so these people can host events and spread the conservation knowledge in their own community. All this, backed by the main team which will assemble different specialists in natural sciences, proposing free educational resources and activities as support.

Local wildlife conservation vs. global conservation

In my opinion, there is for sure the necessity for some specialists to go work in South Africa, others in China, but there is also much work to do locally!

When we talk about conservation we tend to think about rhinos and koalas, but we usually ignore the fact that there are even more threatened species of insects, birds, mammals and plants in our own countries… If everyone were to save rhinos, who would save the local biodiversity?

A future in conservation

Other than working on my own project, my professional plans consist of getting a PhD in entomology and working in the research and conservation of insects. For me, this field is the base of wildlife conservation.
The secret of life | Biologist on the Trail

“Secret of Life”

We never think deeply about it, but insects are majorly important in the lifecycle of the Earth. They contribute to the pollination of flowering plants, but also to the decomposition of dead organisms, and are also part of almost every food chain. Imagine life without insects; no plants, therefore no food both from vegetal and animal origins, but also no more decomposition, which would lead to the accumulation of dead animals and plants in the environment (raising the nitrogen amounts and also promoting pathogens), making life almost impossible there…

Without those tiny critters, I guess all terrestrial ecosystems would collapse, leading to a massive extinction.

How can we support wildlife conservation from home?

This question is indeed the base of conservation. We all can support and get involved in wildlife conservation from home.

The basic stuff you can do include following pages that raise awareness on nature and its problems, buying sustainable products from eco-responsible brands, tweaking our lives to be less pollutant and donating to wildlife associations. These are all a must for every person!

However, if you want to go further, you can join local clubs, in your region or school. Or even more, you can participate in conservation projects. If no such clubs are available, then coordinate with us to create one! We’ll support you and give you access to the right information and offer you all we have.

We are accepting every new member in our community with joy and looking for more ambassadors to be the seeds of knowledge around the world! Follow Naturalists et al. on Instagram and register on the community website.

Best regards,

Haïg T.
Biologist on the trail
@biologistonthetrail

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