Today’s post is dedicated to wildlife conservation activist, Ofir Drori. After watching his TEDx talk, I had to share his story and mission to fight for wildlife. Having a passion for wildlife conservation can sometimes be a little unnerving because you wish you could do more than what you’re already doing. It’s also hard because getting into his field can be a daunting goal as well. Organizations need experts in the sciences, animal know-how, etc.
Well, what happens when you’re not a scientist or don’t have any of those required skills? Drori answers that question for the many of us who wish we could do more for wildlife. His answer: optimism and passion.
As he explained in the video, Drori’s passion blossomed from one animal. That animal was a baby chimpanzee named Kita. Immediately, I connected with this story because that’s how my passion started. I’ve had animals all of my life, but I never had pit bulls until I became an adult. When I adopted my first, Amber, I felt the need to protect her and love her like a child. Having Amber opened my eyes to the horrible treatment and backlash her breed gets. Since then, I’ve committed myself to protecting and loving all animals.
In Drori’s case, his love for Kita and her species drove him to fight against people selling dead and live chimpanzees, as well as various chimp parts. He came across merchants attempting to sell a baby chimp for less than $100. He immediately went to the authorities, and instead of giving justice, they wanted to take bribes. Corruption at its finest. In utter frustration and restlessness, he pondered ways to save the baby chimp before it was too late. The thing is, baby chimps are like human babies. They need nurturing. Sadly, this baby was tied up by a rope causing her to bleed.
So, he decided to play the role of a big-time government official who had the authority to send these merchants to jail. You gotta’do what you gotta’ do, right? This passionate act saved Future, the baby chimp who adopted Drori. (Drori’s recollection of the moment Future hugged him for the first time. After that, Drori says that Future adopted him.)
After this success, Drori’s spark erupted into flames. He and his partner went on to create the world’s first wildlife enforcement NGO. He had no car, office, equipment, or donors. He had only his passion and incredible work ethic.
His organization, EAGLE, has caught and helped to prosecute corrupt politicians, government officials, even wildlife officials such as a Deputy Minister of Wildlife. In addition, they have aided the prosecution of an organized crime syndicate responsible for slaughtering 32,000 elephants.
Now, EAGLE consists of more than 100 activists that are located in more than 9 countries around the world. That’s a long way from being a one-man army.
Drori notes that you need optimism to take action. Optimism helps to persistently carry out your passion and, in our case, fight for those who cannot fight, let alone speak out, for themselves. His story has motivated me to further my passion for animals and for the environment. I hope he can do the same for you.
Please, take a few minutes to watch Drori’s TEDx talk about his full experience with wildlife conservation.