In a recent report to the UN (March 20, 2023), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said: “Urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all. There are multiple, feasible, and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change, and they are available now.” This is really positive and motivates us to keep pushing for improvements.
When I look back to the start of my conservation journey, I find hope in the story of the mountain gorillas. When I started out as Uganda’s first wildlife vet, they were critically endangered and widely predicted to be extinct by the turn of the millennium. It was a huge worry. However, in 2018—thanks to enormous efforts of all partners—mountain gorillas were reclassified from critically endangered to endangered, in recognition of their sustained positive population growth.
Of course, the future of mountain gorillas is not yet secure, and the recent emergence of new diseases and viruses, such as COVID-19—examples of issues which are exacerbated by climate change and over-exploitation of resources—poses an increasing threat to their survival. Nevertheless, the redirection of their population trend to one of growth is one of the greatest conservation successes. It is something I am immensely proud to have contributed to.
It also gives me hope at times when I feel overwhelmed by the continuing conservation and environmental challenges ahead of us. Nature is incredibly resilient and the more chance we give it to recover, the more it will amaze us with the speed at which it can. We just need to give it that chance.