Well, I’ve been in Europe now for about 2 months, and apologies for falling behind with updates – I’ve been busy having a damn good time or being very worn out afterwards (stories to come), but there has been a distinctly marked change of pace which has given me some things to ponder. But first, a brief prologue to bring you up to speed…
I’ve met a few people along the road who, upon hearing about my adventure, have joked (in good humour) that I did this trip backwards by visiting Africa first as seeing how Europe is a more “normal first step” into worldly travels. Off the bat I can retort “since when have I ever been normal?”… But realistically?
There are many reasons I wanted to see Africa first, namely because I genuinely wanted, more than anything else, to go there. Europe was a logical follow-up since I was already on this side of the Atlantic anyway.
But it all started because of that ad I saw about volunteering at that monkey rescue.
I had never felt so inspired or alive as when I was in Africa – when I was with monkeys, or in Gansbaai with Great Whites. I had a purpose, and I knew that the money I spent was going into a cause I believed in, one I wanted to help, and gave me experiences I will cherish for the rest of my life while providing inspiration for the footsteps that follow.
After I summited Kilimanjaro, no pun intended, but my inspiration all started rolling downhill.
Don’t get me wrong: I have been having the time of my life, met brilliant and fun people from all over the world (though there seems to be an Aussie invasion, and I like it), and have seen places I’ve only ever dreamed of, but… after feeling like I was working for a purpose in Africa, the experiences now seem just a little bit hollow. This part of my trip is “just for me” and bowls of fun, but even exploring the finer sites in Europe, I am aching to do something fulfilling… Not just for fun.
When I was ferrying across the Strait of Gibraltar, well aware that the vast continent of Africa was slipping away behind the waves, I already missed it.
It is a raw and beautiful sprawl of land as diverse in culture and language as it is with wildlife, and it seems that so many of those pieces that make it so unique are at risk of disappearing.
Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are nearly gone, as are rhinos with a 5000% increase in poaching in the past 5 years. Lion populations have dropped 90% in the last 50 years. Madagascar’s rainforests are disappearing to make way for agriculture and growing populations, while the opposite is happening to their wildlife.
It’s a devastating reality that takes place whether you see it happening or not.
On the road and without resources to DO anything, I feel so frustratingly useless. “Out of sight, out of mind” is not an excuse I can bear, especially if I remember the last two rhinos I saw in South Africa that were poached two weeks later.
So, until I can begin to put my hopeful plans into action, I will do what I can for now: spread the word. It might not be much in the grand scheme of things, but I am a believer that knowledge is power, so I’ll pass it along.
The World Wildlife Fund is trying hard to crack down on wildlife trade. This, as much as habitat encroachment, is one of the leading reasons for the disappearance of some of the world’s most unique animals. I’ve posted a video at the bottom of this post and I urge you to watch it.
Knowledge is power, after all. Do with it what you can, even if it’s just passing it forward.
You can see more of what WWF is up to here: http://worldwildlife.org/pages/stop-wildlife-crime-the-series – with links to share via social media
Or support South Africa National Parks directly here: http://sanparks.givengain.org
We’re all in this together.