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Wolf in the Wilderness

What IS Conservation?

What is conservation?

A good place to start is this: “The best definition of conservation that I can come up with is: ‘Things people do to establish or maintain good relations with nature.’”

That’s from a university professor, Chris Sandbrook, who teaches at Cambridge in England.

Good relations. It’s what the Lakota people (Native American Indians) knew when they greeted all life around them with a prayer to the world, “mitakuye oyasin” . . . loosely translated as “All my relations.” It means we are all connected. We are all family.

A famous American scientist named Aldo Leopold, wrote:

Conservation is a state of harmony between [people] and land. By land is meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth. . . . The land is one organism.
. . .
The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not.
– Aldo Leopold, in Round River

Family of African elephants, South Africa

The earth is bigger than any one of us can understand. But we can try to have a better relationship with it.

And like all things we want to do better at, it helps to start small.

Learn to love and care about a little piece of the earth, whether that’s your backyard, a nearby park, or (through a book or the Internet) a piece of the rainforest or the Serengeti in Africa. Observe and learn about something in nature, whether endangered frogs or turtles, wild monkeys or snow leopards, great elephants or small butterflies.

Here are three things to think about:

  1. The world is connected. It’s a gigantic family of living creatures. We are all related.
  2. The world is complicated! We aren’t sure how it works, so we let’s not tinker with it and try to change it so it serves our personal wishes.
  3. In any case, we don’t have the right to destroy species or habitats.

As humans, we might be the most intelligent species. (Maybe.) We are the most influential. So let’s use that knowledge and power to try to be good caretakers.

It might be a stretch to think of being related to a wild monkey. Or a sea turtle. But it’s a good way to start thinking what you can do to live in a peaceful way with the wild, wonderful creatures of the earth.

Conservation is harmony.

Across the globe, we are all related.

So look for connections with nature. Try to care a little more.

And do something to help . . . even something very small.

“Kids deserve the right to think that they can change the world.”
– Lois Lowry

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”
– Malala Yousafzai

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

“Do small things with great love.” – Mother Theresa

Tree Frog
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