There are no natural predators to African elephants – humans are the #1 cause of the unnatural death of elephants. If African Elephants continue to be killed at the current rate, they will be extinct by 2020 (as estimated by a study from the University of Washington).
Such an integral part of the African ecosystem – extinct in my lifetime?! Not if I can help it!
I have always been intrigued by Africa, the uniqueness, culture, and breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. So completely different than anything I’ve experienced in my life. It has always been a dream of mine to visit Africa. I remember visiting my Uncles house and seeing photos from a South African Safari, and dreamed to one day experience the beauty first hand. While I had always thought about it, I never really imagined it being anything more than that – a dream.
I had been working in the corporate world for many years – worked for the same company for 11 years. I had my future figured out. I knew where I was going to be in five years, in ten years…or so I thought! Over the past 3 years, several things happened in my life that made me re-focus my priorities. It was time for me to figure out what made me happy. Life is too short to waste!
About 8 months ago, a great friend and mentor introduced me to his long time friend Lori Bergemann – the founder of Amara Conservation. I started to volunteer with her and help out where I could. This was a turning point in my future.
Lori is a very inspirational woman. She grew up in India, and saw how elephants were poorly treated. She made a promise to herself at a young age that she would one day help the elephants. After working for 17 years at the same company, she left to follow her passion, and act on her promise – she started Amara Conservation. She did something not many people would do. She took on a challenge, and certainly didn’t go the easy route in life. A very admirable act of selflessness.
Shortly after meeting Lori, I woke up one day, and realized I wasn’t living my passion. I was living the easy life. My life was not challenging, and I wasn’t making a profound impact on this world. Something had to change. One of the hardest, scariest decisions I’ve ever had to make – something that completely turned my life upside down – was to leave my corporate job and plan an extended trip to Nairobi, Kenya to work with Amara Conservation. While one of the scariest decisions, it has opened up my life to great opportunity and happiness.
I am leaving for my new adventures in Nairobi in one week, and couldn’t be happier. While my dream has always been to go to Africa, I pictured a vacation, not actually being able to go there and make a difference! What a bonus! I will be there for at least 3 months working with Amara to help educate Kenyans on the importance of preserving their ecosystem.
Communities in and around Tsavo do not see the elephants as helpful: in their mind, elephants eat crops, destroy their land, and can bring in money if killed for their tusks.
Through education and information, Amara is helping humans and elephants coexist and support each other, ultimately protecting their beautiful land. Once they understand the crucial role these species play in one of nature’s most important ecosystems; once they learn how moderate changes in lifestyle can have a powerful impact on the viability of the creatures they share their environment with; once they become aware of how poachers and organized thugs are wrecking their very future, as well as the future of their children, the tide is stemmed, the trend is reversed and a sustainable outcome is possible.
I cannot believe I get to be a part of something with such a great impact, something so important, and something so life changing.
I look forward to keeping you posted on my new adventures, the progress that Amara is making, and sharing photos from Nairobi & Tsavo.
~Sabra Bander – Newest Team Member of Amara Conservation