I am an anthropology and journalism student who is passionate about animal conservation. My dream was always to move overseas and have a first hand experience in saving my species of choice.
For a long time my heart belonged to the tigers, so much so that I began working at a big cat rescue in North Texas. After working with closely with tigers and lions and jaguars (oh my!) I found that, although they were still in dire need of help, there were a lot of programs that were funding tiger conservation. Plus, tigers could be very nasty and always peed on you. There was also a lot of people already out there studying wild tigers, and that there were not many rehab and release programs because this just didn’t work the same way it did with other species.
My next animal obsession was very short lived. It was the Asian elephant. The plight of the Asian elephant is a tragic one. They are so incredibly exploited due to their grandeur and intelligence. The elephants that walk the streets of Bangkok for the entertainment of tourists are often dosed with cocaine so that they can walk further without sleeping, because keeping an elephant in a city is illegal, but it is a hard to enforce this law, because how on earth do you move an elephant that doesn’t want to leave? Again this tugged at my heart strings, but realistically the likelihood of being killed by an elephant was much higher than my final decision.
I took my first primatology course my freshman year of college, grasping at it as it was the only animal related class offered at my school. In retrospect I did not pick the best school for my new love of primatology seeing as SMU is not the best school for science, as they focus more on business and engineering. Watching the great apes use tools I became fascinated. Their social structure entranced me and I wanted to know more. I did my own research about great apes out of class, deciding that everyone goes to Africa, I want to go to Asia. This simple decision made me starting looking at orangutans.
Orangutans. Big, orange and fuzzy. The only arboreal great ape. The least studied of the apes. Living in the heart of the Bornean rainforest the orangutan grabbed my attention. Since coming to this decision I have been preparing to do everything I can after I graduate from college to ensure that I can go to Borneo and make a difference.
I want more than anything for there to be a guide, a book entitled “How to get to Borneo and save the orangutans for dummies” or something along those lines, but theres not. No, I am stuck in a college with no primatology staff and no one that knows enough to help me. I am figuring it all out on my own.
My current plans are to graduate SMU in the year 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and a minor in Journalism. During my time at SMU I will need to receive 6 hours of credit (2 classes) doing field research. Most SMU students attend a summer session at our sister campus in Taos and work at a dig site or taking cultural anthropology classes. I am going to be difficult and hope to attend a summer abroad trip hosted by Lynn University in Sierra Leon in Africa and study chimpanzees or Pan Troglodytes.
After school my plans get foggier. I will apply for a long term volunteer position at Birute Galdikas’ Orangutan Foundation International, though I have not seen any dealing with orangutans on their website open up this year. I may simply pack up and move to Borneo for 6 months to gain a feel for the culture and how things are run there, then return to the states and get my affairs in order before embarking on my journey.
This blog will be contributed to conservation education, science and animal related news, and my personal journey to the rainforests of Borneo to serve as a guide for those who will come behind me.