Tribute to Women Wildlife Warriors

by Inga Yandell

Bare Essentials wishes to pay homage to women wildlife warriors who dedicate their lives to educating and inspiring others to appreciate and enjoy our earth. These custodians of nature devote their time and effort towards establishing sustainable solutions for the preservation of our wild heritage a treasure worth fighting for!

    In Conservation:

 

Dr. Laurie Marker – Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) based in Namibia, Africa. Having worked with cheetahs since 1974, Laurie set up the not-for profit CCF in 1990, moving to Namibia to develop a permanent conservation research Centre for the wild cheetah.

In 1992 the Cheetah Conservation Fund became a registered Namibian Trust. Today CCF’s activities are housed at their International Research and Education Centre in the main cheetah habitat of the country. In July 2000 CCF opened their field research station to the public, having developed a Visitor’s Centre, a Cheetah Museum and an Education Centre.

Laurie helped develop the US and international captive program to assist the cheetah, establishing the most successful captive cheetah-breeding program in North America during her 16 years (1974-1988) at ‘Wildlife Safari’ in Oregon, USA. She first came to Namibia in 1977 when she brought a captive-born, hand-raised cheetah to Namibia to determine if a cheetah must be taught to hunt or if the process was fully instinctual. This was the first-of-its-kind research to better understand if there was a chance for captive-born cheetahs to be re-introduced into the wild.

She learned about the conflict between livestock farmers and cheetahs in Namibia, discovering that wild cheetahs needed help. For the next ten years she continued traveling to Africa to learn more about the wild cheetah’s problems and what could be done to assist wild populations. In the early 1980’s, along with collaborators at the National Zoo and National Cancer Institute in the USA, she helped identify the cheetah’s lack of genetic variation, thus causing the species greater problems for survival.

In 1988, in collaboration with these two institutions she became the Executive Director of the Center for New Opportunities in Animal Health Sciences, based at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo. She continues to serve as a NOAHS Research Fellow. In 1988 she developed the International Cheetah Studbook, a registry of captive cheetah worldwide, and is the International Studbook Keeper. In 1996 she was made a vice-chair of the World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Species Survival Commission’s (SSC) Cat Specialist Group.

In 2000 Laurie was recognised as one of Time Magazine’s Heroes for the Planet and given the Burrow’s Conservation Award from Cincinnati, Ohio. In 2001 Laurie was locally honored in Namibia, receiving the Paul Harris Fellowship from the Windhoek Rotary Club, and in 2002 she received a special award from the Sanveld Conservancy’, signifying Namibia’s farming community’s public acknowledgement of Laurie and CCF’s contributions. In 2003 and 2005 she was named Conservationist of the Year by Chevron-Texaco and Living Desert’s Track’s in the Sand, respectively.

More recently she was awarded $50,000 by the Tech Museum of Innovation at the 2008 Tech Awards gala. The award recognized CCF’s Bushblok program, which uses a high-pressure extrusion process to convert invasive, habitat-destroying bush into a clean-burning fuel log, an economically viable alternative to existing products such as firewood, coal, lump charcoal and charcoal briquettes. Plans are underway to use the biomass to power electric plants to help energy-dependent Namibia manufacture its own electricity. Clearing invasive bush helps restore millions of acres of Namibian savannah to its original state and improve the habitat for both the cheetah and its prey.

Be Inspired by Dr. Marker: www.cheetah.org

 

Jane Goodall was born in London, England in 1934. As a child she was given a lifelike chimpanzee toy named Jubilee by her father. Goodall was not very interested in animals until her father brought her the stuffed animal. Today, the toy still sits on her dresser in London.

After the divorce of her parents when Goodall was only 12 years old, she moved with her mother to Bournemouth, England. Goodall’s interest in animals prompted notable anthropologist Louis Leakey to hire her as his assistant and secretary. He invited her to accompany him and his wife, Mary Leakey, to dig at Olduvai Gorge in eastern Africa. He asked Goodall to study the chimpanzees of Gombe Stream National Park (then known as ‘Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve’). She arrived at Gombe accompanied by her mother in July 1960. Leakey arranged for her to return to the United Kingdom where she earned a doctorate in ethology from the University of Cambridge in 1964. Along with Dian Fossey, famous for living with gorillas, and Biruté Galdikas, who advanced studies in orangutans, Goodall was one of three women recently dubbed by some as “Leakey’s Angels”.

Goodall is best known for her study of chimpanzee social and family life. In 1977, Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), which supports the Gombe research, and she is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. With nineteen offices around the world, the JGI is widely recognized for innovative, community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa and a global youth program, Roots & Shoots, which currently has over 8,000 groups in over 100 countries. Today, Goodall devotes virtually all of her time to advocacy on behalf of chimpanzees and the environment, traveling nearly 300 days a year. Goodall is also a board member for the world’s largest chimpanzee sanctuary outside of Africa, Save the Chimps in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Goodall was instrumental in the study of social learning, primate cognition, thinking and culture in wild chimpanzees, their differentiation from the bonobo, and the inclusion of both chimpanzee species, and the gorilla, as Hominids.

One of Goodall’s major break-throughs in the field of primatology was the discovery of tool-making among chimpanzees during her study. Though many animals had been clearly observed using ‘tools’, previously, only humans were thought to make tools, and tool-making was considered the defining difference between humans and other animals. This discovery convinced several scientists to reconsider their definition of being human.

Jane Goodall’s involvement in tropical forests and conservation has led her to be actively involved in a number of environmental issues, and to found the Roots & Shoots youth group. She has also endorsed the Forests Now Declaration, calling for new market based mechanisms to protect tropical forests. She is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust.
Jane Goodall has received many honors for her environmental and humanitarian work, as well as others.

She was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in a ceremony held in Buckingham Palace in 2004. In April 2002, Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Dr. Goodall a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Her other honors include the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the French Legion of Honor, Medal of Tanzania, Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science, the Gandhi-King Award for Nonviolence and the Spanish Premio Príncipe de Asturias. She is also a member of the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine.

In 2002, the Canadian city of Greater Sudbury, Ontario dedicated a walking trail, highlighting some of the city’s efforts to rehabilitate environmental damage from the local mining industry, to Goodall. On 7 July 2007 Goodall presented at Live Earth. In April 2008, Jane was awarded the Montana State University Medal for Global and Visionary Leadership.

Be Inspired by Jane Goodall: www.janegoodall.org


    For Animal Rights:

 

Ingrid Newkirk animal rights activist, author and President of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Best known for her animal rights awareness campaigns organized on behalf of PETA, which she cofounded in 1980.  

 

As PETA’s president, Ingrid has spoken internationally on animal rights issues—from the steps of the Canadian Parliament to the streets of New Delhi, India, and from the drowning tanks of Taiwan to the halls of the U.S. Congress.

Ingrid was born in Surrey, England, and lived in Europe until she was 7 years old, when she and her parents moved to New Delhi, where her father worked as a navigational engineer and her mother volunteered for Mother Teresa and various charities. Ingrid’s early volunteer experiences—packing pills and rolling bandages for people who were suffering from leprosy, stuffing toys for orphans, and feeding stray animals—informed her view that anyone in need, including animals, is worthy of concern.

Until she was 21, Ingrid had given no thought to animal rights or even vegetarianism. In 1970, however, when she and her husband were living in Maryland and she was studying to become a stockbroker, a neighbor abandoned some kittens and Ingrid decided to take them to an animal shelter. This was a life changing-experience for Ingrid and led to her first job working in behalf of animals—cleaning kennels and investigating cruelty cases. Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation and Ingrid’s experiences in that job and later on—including finding a fox and a squirrel caught in steel traps, finding a pig left to starve on a farm, and inspecting laboratories and circus acts for the government—made her realize that there needed to be an organization like PETA.

Ingrid has also served as a deputy sheriff, a Maryland state law enforcement officer with the highest success rate in convicting animal abusers, the director of cruelty investigations for the second-oldest humane society in the U.S., and the chief of animal disease control for the Commission on Public Health in Washington, D.C.

Under Ingrid’s leadership, legislation was passed to create the first-ever spay-and-neuter clinic in Washington, D.C. She coordinated the first arrest in U.S. history of a laboratory animal experimenter on cruelty charges and helped achieve the first anti-cruelty law in Taiwan. She spearheaded the closure of a Department of Defense underground “wound laboratory,” and she has initiated many other campaigns against animal abuse, including ending General Motors’ car-crash tests on animals.

Ingrid is the author of Save the Animals! 101 Easy Things You Can Do, 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals, The Compassionate Cook, 250 Ways to Make Your Cat Adore You, You Can Save the Animals: 251 Simple Ways to Stop Thoughtless Cruelty, Free the Animals, Making Kind Choices, Let’s Have a Dog Party!, and One Can Make a Difference. She has also written numerous articles on the treatment of animals in homes, slaughterhouses, circuses, and laboratories.

Be Inspired by Ingrid Newkirk: www.ingridnewkirk.com

 

    For Environmental Education:

 

Charlotte Uhlenbroek was born in London, but spent only 10 days on British soil before her parents moved to Ghana. Her Dutch father was an agricultural specialist with the UN who took his family round the world with him. From the age of five to fourteen she lived in Kathmandu, Nepal where her love of animals developed.

She furthered her interest in animals through her degree in Zoology and Psychology, at the University of Bristol. After university, Charlotte spent four years in the forests of Gombe, Tanzania, studying the communication of wild chimpanzees, under the auspices of world-famous Jane Goodall for her PhD. She lived in a tiny hut on the shores of Lake Tanganyika and spent her days with the chimps in the forest.

Charlotte’s first appearance on the screen was in the BBC Natural History Unit’s Dawn to Dusk series, in a programme on Gombe and its chimps. Her talent recognised, she went on to present BBC2’s Chimpanzee Diary as part of the Animal Zone (1998-99).

On television, in the series Cousins she introduced viewers to her extended primate family. Screened in 2000 it was Charlotte’s first big series for BBC1. In 2001, she presented Congo’s Secret Chimps for BBC2’s Wild zone, and in 2002 returned with the acclaimed Talking with Animals, a series that listened in on the communications of creatures as diverse as cuttlefish and wolves.

In her BBC1 series Jungle, Charlotte went back to the place she calls her second home to explore the world’s rainforests, from the tips of the canopy to the dark, inhospitable forest floor. More recently, Charlotte has presented Final Chance to Save…..Sea Turtles for Sky One and two specials for the BBC called Secret Gorillas of Mondika and Lemurs of Madagascar.

As well as her TV work Charlotte has written the books Talking with Animals and Jungle. Her most recent book, Animal Life, was published by Dorling Kindersley in October 2008. Charlotte has also written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines. She supports various organizations including the Ape Alliance, Fauna and Flora International, World Development Movement, Compassion in World Farming, Free Tibet, and the Jane Goodall Institute.

Respected and admired by her peers, in a recent interview, Sir David Attenborough named Charlotte as his potential successor believing she has the knowledge and the skills required. He said “I would be happy to see Charlotte take on a presenting role like this. She knows what she is talking about and is an excellent presenter.”

Be Inspired by Charlotte Uhlenbroek: BBC Science& Nature

 

Saba Douglas-Hamilton grew up in the Kenyan wilderness with her younger sister, Dudu. Her father introduced her to their extended family of 400 elephants at just six weeks old – so understanding animals is second nature.

 

After University, her first job was with Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) in the hinterland of the Skeleton Coast, Namibia, on a “Crafts for Conservation” project. This was followed by a brief stint in Tanzania as academic director for a School for International Training (SIT) semester abroad programme, then a position as anthropological consultant on the coast for the National Museums of Kenya. In 1997 she joined her father’s charity Save the Elephants (STE) as his chief executive officer and founded a research centre in Samburu National Reserve, north Kenya. It was while working for STE that she was talent-spotted by the BBC, and her life as a wildlife filmmaker began. She has fronted series such as Big Cat Diary and The Secret Life of Elephants, about her father’s Kenyan-based charity, Save the Elephants.

Be Inspired by Saba Douglas-Hamilton: www.douglas-hamilton.com

 

    In Memory of:

 

Helen Freeman also know as “the Jane Goodall of snow leopards”. Optimistic and determined to succeed, she single-handedly set up the Snow Leopard Trust, an international conservation body dedicated to saving one of the world’s most beautiful and charismatic animals, the snow leopard of central Asia.

The trust, which now employs local staff in China, India, Mongolia, Pakistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, is based on an ethic of co-operation that was way ahead of its time when it started. Freeman also helped set up a self-sustaining breeding programme of captive snow leopards.

She was born Helen Maniotas, the only child of Greek immigrants who settled in Everett in Washington state where they ran the London Café. Her parents ensured that their bright daughter received a college education: she went to Washington State University, where she graduated in 1954 with a degree in business administration.

From her school days on, Freeman spent her spare time working as a volunteer at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. She became so fascinated with the animals that, once her children were in school, she returned to university – to the University of Washington, at Seattle – to study zoology, receiving a second degree, in animal behaviour, in 1973. This enabled her to join the staff of the zoo, where she was eventually appointed curator of education in the early 1980s.

The turning point in Freeman’s life came with the arrival at the zoo, in 1972, of a pair of rare snow leopards from the Soviet Union, named Nicholas and Alexandra. She described the moment as “love at first sight”. By watching them for hours at a time, she became expert in interpreting the animals’ behaviour. “The more I learned, the more I saw them, the more interesting they were to me,” she recalled.

Her expertise helped the zoo to design a programme that overcame the usual reluctance of snow leopards to breed in captivity. Over the years, Nicholas and Alexandra have produced 29 cubs. For five years from 1982, Freeman chaired the snow leopard “Species Survival Plan”.

In 1981, Freeman set up a foundation to help her favorite animal: the Snow Leopard Trust. Her credo was straightforward: “I think it’s important that we preserve diversity,” she said. “I don’t think every animal we look at should be domesticated. We evolved to share with every other creature on this planet.” However, she was ahead of her time in placing the emphasis on helping people to improve their standard of living in exchange for protecting the leopards and their rugged environment. From the start, the trust sought to make links with local officials and communities in central Asia, establishing partnerships and cooperative ventures, and working out ways for people and snow leopards to co-exist peacefully.

As the trust’s first director, Freeman travelled, sometimes alone, to most of the countries where snow leopards are found. Using all her native persistence and charm to drum up support, she consorted with Maharajahs in India, trekked the Himalayas in Nepal, sailed the Yangtze River to Chungking in China, and helped to organise, and participate in, symposia on the snow leopard in China, India and the Soviet Union. She was also a tireless lobbyist of potential US supporters. She retired as director of the trust in 1996, but remained an active board member.

Among Freeman’s awards were the Alumni Achievement Award from Washington State University and a medal of honor from the Woodland Park Zoological Society. She also won the 1998 Evergreen Award from the US government’s wildlife service “in recognition of worldwide partnerships in wildlife conservation and understanding”. An ensemble of bronze sculptures at the Woodland Park Zoo help illustrate the lifetime passion of Freeman who passed away in 2007 as does her memoir, Life, Laughter & the Pursuit of Snow Leopards (2005).

Be Inspired by Helen Freeman: www.snowleopard.org

 

Rachel Carson, writer, scientist, and ecologist, grew up simply in the rural river town of Springdale, Pennsylvania. Her mother bequeathed to her a life-long love of nature and the living world that Rachel expressed first as a writer and later as a student of marine biology.

Carson graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College) in 1929, studied at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, and received her MA in zoology from Johns Hopkins University in 1932.

She was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries to write radio scripts during the Depression and supplemented her income writing feature articles on natural history for the Baltimore Sun. She began a fifteen-year career in the federal service as a scientist and editor in 1936 and rose to become Editor-in-Chief of all publications for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

She wrote pamphlets on conservation and natural resources and edited scientific articles, but in her free time turned her government research into lyric prose, first as an article “Undersea” (1937, for the Atlantic Monthly), and then in a book, Under the Sea-Wind (1941). In 1952 she published her prize-winning study of the ocean, The Sea Around Us, which was followed by The Edge of the Sea in 1955. These books constituted a biography of the ocean and made Carson famous as a naturalist and science writer for the public. Carson resigned from government service in 1952 to devote herself to her writing.

She wrote several other articles designed to teach people about the wonder and beauty of the living world, including “Help Your Child to Wonder,” (1956) and “Our Ever-Changing Shore” (1957), and planned another book on the ecology of life. Embedded within all of Carson’s writing was the view that human beings were but one part of nature distinguished primarily by their power to alter it, in some cases irreversibly.

Disturbed by the profligate use of synthetic chemical pesticides after World War II, Carson reluctantly changed her focus in order to warn the public about the long term effects of misusing pesticides. In Silent Spring (1962) she challenged the practices of agricultural scientists and the government, and called for a change in the way humankind viewed the natural world.

Carson was attacked by the chemical industry and some in government as an alarmist, but courageously spoke out to remind us that we are a vulnerable part of the natural world subject to the same damage as the rest of the ecosystem. Testifying before Congress in 1963, Carson called for new policies to protect human health and the environment. Rachel Carson died in 1964 after a long battle against breast cancer. Her witness for the beauty and integrity of life continues to inspire new generations to protect the living world and all its creatures.

Biographical entry courtesy of Carson biographer © Linda Lear, 1998, author of Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature (1997).

Be Inspired by Rachel Carson: www.rachelcarson.org

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
Inga Yandell

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