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Introduction: Fossey Dian’s book is a narration of the experiences that she went through in the African forests to study the biodiversity of the continent. The aim of the tour, which took time to plan eventually materialized. Fossey planned to tour the Mt. Mikeno in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as Congo. On another mission, the tourist wished to meet other researchers at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Fossey’s trip to Africa was motivated by the concerns of human encroachment in the mountainous regions and the effects this had on the life of the mountain gorillas. This essay is a self-reflection on the critical contribution that Fossey’s campaign made to save the human nature and the relevance of conservation efforts in addressing the current environmental problems.
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The era of massive industrialization brought many positive changes to the human experience but did little or nothing to change to serve the interest of Mother Nature. Fossey’s book is useful to the ecological conservation of the barren lands in many aspects. To begin with, Fossey made a significant point by writing the Mountain Gorillas as environmental leaders across the globe were greatly touched by the point the author was making. While others called it an epoch-making, others neglect the contributions made by the conservationist.
Fossey’s writing enable the human race to realize the catastrophic impacts of environmental degradation. The recent disastrous heavy rains and flooding imply that something is not right. There is shrinking in the revulsion as nature responds to the ecological impacts of the human damage. From the era of industrialization to today’s technology era, the human race fights for space to survive by manipulating resources to make consumable products. This comes at the expense of conservation. The recent climatic changes are a culmination of humankind’s inability to care for the Mother Nature. More factories mean more emission of carbon gases into the atmosphere, which depletes the ozone layer. The result of changing climatic conditions are inevitable as the ice in the polar regions melt at very high rates, leading to more rising water levels of the islands. This calls for global manipulation of policies that would protect the environment. The United Nations has organized a number of conferences: the Copenhagen conference, the Rio summit, and the Durban conference among others. Nonetheless, the developed nations still do not want to commit to the policies due to compromise of economic development. In the meantime, the environment suffers as humankind benefits while Nature suffers. It is up to the modern generation to act and make the future bearable for the generations to come.
The environmental policies and proposed environmental management do not work in most instances. This is because “As human global impacts proliferate, their unsought, undesirable, perhaps lethal consequences can never be fully foreseen, let alone prevented” (Lowenthal 17). The insights shared by Fossey are more relevant in the current world. Fossey notes “The remnants of the old line of evergreens that had marked the original 1929 boundaries along the Rwandan side of the six dormant volcanoes stood like weary soldiers at the ravaged post” (39). Moreover, human activities like illegal charcoal burners destroy the trees, which host the mountain gorillas, lead to soil erosion, and loss of forest cover.
This is the reason for the emerging attention towards global warming the world over. The publics have become more aware of the threat of human survival resulting from a depleting ecological system. This drives most of the corporate social responsibilities that must organizations adopt today. They have no choice but to conform to the needs of the majority, who wants them to justify their operations in the wake of the eminent global challenges. The ecological uncertainty is a humbling phenomenon whose impacts can be seen and felt by modern economies. Yet still, “Above the evergreens, the devastated forest was pocked with smoke from the burning Hagenia trees where small land plots were being cleared for pyrethrum cultivation” (39). The people have to compromise political and economic benefits by making hard choices that would not be popular with the interest of the majority as that is what pervades the pages written by Fossey. Kemp support that “Public pressure forced the political and industrial establishment to reassess its position on environmental quality supports this” (179).
Fossey also raises awareness on land as a physical entity or what would be considered the broadest resource on earth. Fossey writes;
At the time of my flight, another assault on the forest had yet to be inflicted. There years later, reportedly for the purpose of ‘conservation’, a 21/2 mile swath, varying in width from 30 to 40 feet, was cut and burned within the interior of the park along the frontier between Zaire and Rwanda (39-40).
The land has been to source of livelihood for the past years due to resources that it holds and indirectly through the life, it supports. The pressure on land continues to mount due to pressure of population increase. “In the past it could accommodate these changes because populations were small and the level of technology was low, but with the burgeoning population and increasingly advanced technology of modern times, it cannot always meet the demands placed on it,” (Kemp 179). Farming, mining, and timber extraction have led to exhaustion of land and deforestation, and destabilization of internal land forming processes. The ecosystem is a well-coordinated process linking up the land mass and the atmosphere. Therefore, any impact on the land leads to interruption of the hydrological, atmospheric, and reactions in the biosphere. Degradation of land through the above human activities also destroys the fauna and flora, which the land mainly supports.
The fight for a conservative human generation requires a clear cut between the ‘brutal’ nature of human activities and the human race that repugnant to what environmental conservationists think today. The entire organic life is in a seamless union that as the human race, animals, plants, and other living organisms, the balance should never be interrupted. Lowenthal opines, “Such respect has many virtues, spiritual, aesthetic, conservationist, perhaps even practical,” (17). Understanding that the balance remains is a virtue is a universal truth and as much as this never made sense when Fossey took her initiative, it is even more practical today. No one has proved that Mother Nature in its existence is a moral being. The uniqueness of human intention is eminent in that as much as the environmentalist would claim protection of nature; they do it in a manner that portrays the efforts as protecting the environment. This is hypocritical as nature is inclusive as humans are part of the ecosystem. Negligence and lack of appropriate policies should only be considered as laxity of the political regimes that could be unwilling to fulfill the global commitment to conservation. The efforts made to fight degradation of the environment should be driven by the need to champion human beings own survival.
Conservation is a stewardship program that is critical to the survival of the environment through restriction of private properties. The best way to curb interference of encroachment is by passing the responsibility of conservation responsibilities to private owners. This would minimize effects of degradation and prevent disaster from striking. “Man has too long forgotten that the earth was given to him for usufruct alone, not for consumption, still less for pro%uFB02igate waste,” (Lowenthal 17). Nonetheless, it is human responsibility to secure the nature for the generations to come in what is called real stewardship. The next generation would also act as stewards towards the perfection of conservationist ideals. However, stewardship is curtailed by the tyranny of the highest order due to the ‘overwhelming’ immediate needs. The needs lead to lack of accountability of the corporate affairs, the process of democracy, and rise of capitalist economy. The public sensitization, training, and education were the best options for environmental conservation. For the environment to feel part of the human race, it must be owned as an integral part of human survival. The time to act is now. Lamentations and blame are what would be called negative energy that do not help is stewardship.
Conclusion: Many arguments may have been written more than one century ago but they remain relevant in explaining the problems affecting the environment in modern times. The arguments in the essay have supported the ideals made by Fossey in the context of modern generation. As much as the political elites and investors hold different views, their claims are irrelevant because in as much as they must survive, conservation too is part of human survival. The human race and nature are like the two sides of a coin. Human race should play the stewardship role identified by marsh to engage the entire world in seeking resolutions to the problems that threaten the survival of Mother Nature.
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