Saving Lions: How I’m Protecting Wildlife in My Homeland | Nat Geo Live

October 21, 2019 posted by


THANDIWE MWEETWA:
Our beautiful wilderness
is in trouble.It’s being hammered
on all sides
by human encroachment,
poaching,
and habitat degradation.And our mission is to save these
large cats, wild dogs,
and all these other species
in our beautiful ecosystem.
( applause ) Zambia’s Luangwa Valley
is indeed one of Africa’s
best kept secrets.This environment
is so awesome
that it is one
of the last remaining
strongholds for lions
on the African continent.
I have been very fortunate
to live in this beautiful
environment surrounded
by wildlife,
and living here, I’ve been able
to see animals live in action.
Previously, I only
used to see them
on a tiny black and white TV,but I was fascinated even then. My uncle works
as a safari guide, and he always came home with wonderful stories
of animals that he met during his work,
and those just fascinated me. They encouraged me to join my secondary school
conservation club so I could learn more
about these species. I found many fascinating things
about the animals in this place, but also really sad news. Our ecosystem was under threat
from, you know, common things that are affecting many other
places in the world. Human encroachment, poaching, habitat destruction,
you name them. And so I decided
there and then to say, “I’m going to do
something about it.” I decided to become
a wildlife vet, so I could help treat and cure
animals that had survived bullet wounds from poachers. And so I studied really hard. I would stand at night, really late at night with my
feet in a bucket of cold water, so I could make the grades
to get into university. ( laughing ) And that did work.
I was very lucky. I got admitted into the pre-vet
program at UBC in Canada, ready to go take on
this challenge to become a wildlife vet.But you know,
it didn’t go down well.
Second year into the program,
I discovered I could not handle
cutting anything
with a sharp knife.
-( laughing )
-And so my dream for vet school crashed and burned right there. It was so sad. I had spent so many sleepless
nights studying to do this. But it did not end there. I got diverted
into a different career path where I could still
help these animals. I currently work
as a wildlife biologist with the Zambian
Carnivore Programme, and our mission is to save
these large cats, wild dogs, my absolute favorite, and all these other
species in our beautiful ecosystem through
applied research and community-based
conservation. So my job is one of the best
on the planet.I get to see and touch
animals that I had only seen
in books and magazines before.And it’s an amazing experience.I get to collect
key data on survival on who’s going where,
who’s eating what, and what sort of areas
they’re using in our beautiful ecosystem. A typical day begins with me
and my partner in crime, Gibson Banda. It’s not crime-crime
because Gibson is a wildlife police officer with the Department of Wildlife
and National Parks in Zambia. And he is a great person
to work with. He is a comedian so we
are laughing all the time. He is a wonderful human GPS. He knows the system
like the back of his hand and this is an area the size
of Yellowstone National Park. So, it’s great.
We get carried away sometimes. We’re out for days.
We ran out of water andwe had to share waterholes and
drinking points with hippos,
-elephants.
-( laughing )Sometimes we get to
some really bad places.
You know, we get stuck
and getting back on the road
can take anything between
15 minutes, 24 hours sometimes. The best we’ve hoped for
is an entire afternoon. But it works out.
We’re able to get around. And so this difficult task
if you call it is compensated by even more beautiful pictures
like this one.Our absolute favorite to see
out in the field is a male
strawberry blonde lion,
called Ginger.
He’s not ginger-ginger,
he’s more strawberry blonde, but Strawberry is not
a good name for a male lion. ( laughing ) So, Ginger has a brother
called Garlic. Um, Garlic is a regular lion. We are always happy
to see Garlic. Um, he’s a lion. -What’s not good…
-( laughing ) What’s not good about that? Anyway, all of these
wonderful scenes, all of these amazing
experiences in the field lead to the sad reality
that we have to live with.Animals are being affected
by the poaching crisis fueled
by the illegal Bushmeat Trade.These are not the targeted
species for the Bushmeat Trade.
We do not eat lions.
We don’t eat wild dogs.
But people are going for
deer-sized antelope
that they can sell to urban
areas and all those places.
The methods that they use
are non-selective, so that means
animals, anything that is of this shoulder
height, this shoulder height, can get in and get caught. And the impacts are catastrophic
as you can see. Animals die,
animals lose their legs, and that is just pretty sad. But we work really hard to save
as many animals as we can and working really closely with
people that are in the park all the time helps us
do what we do. And these animals, I’m happy to
say, made a complete recovery. Animals do recover
even from injuries that are as gruesome as that. Just going to share
one story about a particularly favorite lion
of mine who we call Funny Ear. -It’s a very un…
-( laughing ) It’s a very unimaginative name
for a really beautiful lioness.But Funny Ear
was a young lioness
when I first started with the
Zambian Carnivore Programme.
She was about a year and a half.She stands out
because of her ear,
but Funny Ear in 2010,
she picked up
a snare in her travels
with her pride.
And it was pretty sad,
but luckily the people that spotted her and they
reported to us and we’re able to go there,
take off this snare, and she healed remarkably well.And so her story kinda ends
in a beautiful Disney-style,
-you know, Disney-style ending.
-( laughing ) She got her prince, and well, a couple of princes because
she is a lioness in her prime. -( laughing )
-Really beautiful. And in 2015, we saw Funny Ear
raise her first litter of cubs. Really amazing, a graduation
ceremony of some sorts, so gives us hope to keep on
pushing and keep on working. And so we’ve heard
all about getting people to care and every society,every culture has a saying
that goes in the line,
“Children are the future.”
And we take that to heart in our work and we really try to work really hard
with these communities and these students to just get them to become
environmentally conscious lawyers, teachers, nurses,
and conservation leaders of the next generation.We take students out
in the field and expose them
to wildlife
in their natural habitat.
And it’s just
an amazing experience.
And these kids love
being out in the field.
They don’t want the field work
to stop.
So, it gives us hope
to see that they’re ready
to learn and they’re willing
to go the extra mile.
And along with this
conservation education work, we want to impart skills that will empower
them going forward.So, it’s skills like
public speaking,
writing, computers,
that can be taken for granted
in the developed
world and in our cities.
These students will
have the chance to get an, sort of,
equal footing almost with regards to uni admission,
getting employment, anything other than poaching.And so last year
with generous support
from the Big Cat Initiative,we are able to do
a human-wildlife conflict study
focused entirely on
understanding
people’s interactions
to big cats
and also other carnivores.It was a nice opportunity
for students to get
in the villages, talk to people,share their
conservation message,
but also we’ve found happily that there’s not as much
conflict as we thought in our part of the world,
but there was a lot of negative perceptions about big cats
in general.We need to get people
to care about these issues.
And it comes from us,
all of us that are here,
talking to them
about experiences
that we’ve had
with these animals.
Alice Deal Middle
School right here in D.C., they did a podcast on what it
means to them to conserve lions. And I’m going to quote
what one of the students said. She said, “We need to give big cats
and large predators a chance. We are their only predator. They cannot survive
without our help.” Thank you. ( applause )

17 Comments

17 Replies to “Saving Lions: How I’m Protecting Wildlife in My Homeland | Nat Geo Live”

  1. SHQIPTAR - Agar says:

    The accent

  2. falling into nostalgia says:

    FIRST LIKE VIEW AND COMMENT

  3. Smooth Criminal says:

    Dayum she is cute. <3

  4. Paul Garcia says:

    Lion meat taste good

  5. Thai Dinh Anh says:

    for goodness' sake. Her accent isn't really good. English is my foreign language, i study American English but i can't hear all of her speech.
    I saw the title of this video and think that i can learn more about english and the way she protect wild life but i can't understand.

  6. TheBigOakTree says:

    Outstanding work! "We are the top predator's predator!" We need to stop and appreciate their beauty and right to live on the planet just like us before they are all destroyed 😔!

  7. Erika says:

    Makes me happy that their are people like her that really care about protecting wildlife 🙂

  8. конкурсы ВСЕЗНАЙКИ says:

    Очень интересно!!!

  9. Lbolting005 says:

    You can tell she's an afrocan booty scratcher.

  10. Anonymoose says:

    Fascinating talk, and I applaud her dedication. And the bottom line: WE are their only predator. WE are the only ones who can help them to survive.

  11. Marcus says:

    What country is she from and good speech

  12. Alfredo Goncalo says:

    really empowering!!

  13. Francis Locust says:

    thats nice

  14. Glynnis Steed says:

    She is an amazing person,so bright,met her in Zambia

  15. Mich Bose says:

    Animals need humans to help them to continue thriving in Africa. It is not natural for them to die or suffer when the problem originates with people. Lions and animals aren't programmed for solving complex problems, but we are. Africa is unique. There is no place like it. Ecosystems can be fragile and irreparable the higher up the chain you go, so we must all take this crisis seriously and with urgency. Sometimes even the smallest of positive changes amount to huge improvements.

  16. Nomsa Betty Kamanga says:

    Amazing speech
    2019 am watching this and cant just get enough
    Thandiwe wow!!!

  17. Non Ya says:

    Started watching a bit by accident. i stayed watching uplifted by the message of hope so beautifully articulated by this incredibly dedicated sweet charismatic young woman! God Bless

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