Connecting People To Nature: A 2017 World Environment Day Memoir

I looked for a picture I took or was taken of me that showed me really close to nature. There were several to choose from.

Someone told me to upload a picture of me carrying a baby chimpanzee. It was taken by the sister of Lisa Gadsby, the co-founder of Pandrillus (visit It was 2004 and we were on a nature trip to that drill monkey and chimpanzee orphanage when Mike, the baby chimp reached out for me and I carried it. Lisa’s sister hurriedly got my camera and captured the moment, she said that it was a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity! Well, I am not putting that up…or maybe I should.

Let me think of another picture…well, I will put up this one that you have seen before. It took me an entire sweaty hour to connect with this butterfly in 2006, an hour that I learnt patience and persistence. I had to stand motionless, to stop, to think, to admire….

We live in this world as if it is just ours. Of course we are the bosses of the planet, but what will life be like without trees, without birds, without butterflies, without… you see, we may just boss ourselves to death.

Every little thing in nature has its own unique place in the ecosystem. Even if we plunder our material treasury wantonly, we should not plunder our natural habitat. We should engage only in development that are naturally sustainable and activities that will protect the environment for us and for future generations.

The earth is connected with all its elements, why do we want want to disconnect ourselves? We live lives that drive birds into extinction, but model our airplanes after them…I do not dream of a time that the only bird left will be the one on a Twitter handle.

Today in 2003, I realized that conservation is not just about me, but about us. What I do to nature affects you, it affects everyone.

On that day I may have received an award for a World Environment Day essay competition I was forced to participate in (but won nonetheless), I may have respected by my classmates, but my connection with nature has never remained the same from that day.


(written on June 5, 2018)

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