Why are animals in danger of becoming extinct and what animals in particular are in danger in the world right now?
Many well loved animal species such as Elephants, Rhinos, Tigers, Giant Pandas and Gorillas are now in danger of becoming extinct in the very near future. This is largely a result of human impacts such as habitat destruction, poaching, pollution climate change and the illegal trade in wildlife (where approx 7 Billion USD worth of animal products are sold each year on the black market). One entire species of plant or animal is now becoming extinct every twenty minutes. We are losing three entire species every hour.
Is extinction natural?
Yes, extinction is natural but not at the current rate. It is occurring 1000 times faster than it should be. Due to human impacts such as habitat destruction, illegal poaching, pollution and global warming we are currently witnessing a 6th mass extinction of species which rivals that of when the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago.
What are you hoping to achieve with the Extinction Sucks series?
The Extinction Sucks series is about giving a face to the facts and a voice to the voiceless and introduce viewers to the animals which are facing extinction. Extinction Sucks carries the message that everyday is an opportunity to help make the world a safer, kinder more loving place for endangered animals. We aim to inform viewers of simple actions they can take to make a big difference to help keep the animals they love alive and protected.
What have been some of your scariest experiences whilst on a animal conservation assignment?
Being charged by a herd of trumpeting elephants, coming face to face with an angry king headed cobra in striking mode that was about to jump in my boat, being bitten by a scorpion in the middle of the Vietnam jungle and thinking I was going to die, being in a crocodile infested swamp in a sinking canoe.
What has been one of your most moving experiences to date?
After days of trekking finding a baby rhino hoof print in the middle of the jungle, which represented new births and hope for their very fragile species. There are less than 300 Sumatran rhinos now left in this wild.
How special are the animals you work with to you?
I consider the animals I work with as a large and important part of my family. I share a sense of kinship with them like I do with my own family. I empathize with them, and feel their pain and anguish. The grief and sorrow I have seen on the faces of some of the rescued animals I have worked with is impossible to describe, such sorrow must be seen to be believed, but this is what keeps me going. I will continue to stand by their side simply because they can't fight back. I see my work as the chance to speak for those who cannot protect or defend themselves. These animals are so very precious to me and the potential for losing them is very real. I have an opportunity to help save them and I don't want to waste that chance. I believe that like us, animals deserve to live a life a free from pain, suffering and distress. No animal deserves to be butchered, sold as an illegal pet , used in appalling laboratory experiments, supplied to a circus or have there forest homes taken from them.
Do you ever feel like giving up and why don't you?
The size of the problems do definitely overwhelms me but the solutions are achievable if we work together! From experience I know that with the help of the broader public we can make a real difference to saving the lives of endangered animals. Conservation does work! Animals that have been pulled back from the brink of extinction in recent years include the Bald Eagle, Whooping Crane, Gray wolf and Green Turtle to mention a few.
Can one person really make a difference?
The small actions of individuals have the power to make a big difference! We only have to look at the butterfly effect to validate this theory; a butterfly flapping its wings in South America can affect the weather in Central Park in New York. The same way that small individual actions radiate out and have a huge and significant impact. If we work together we can help save animals from extinction because it is the doing of the little things by each one of us that will make a big difference in the long run. Someone is enjoying shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago! Individual actions can make a real difference.