Lori Robinson has been immersed in the world of wildlife from a very young age. She has led an incredibly varied and interesting life, learning about conservation from the world famous Dr Jane Goodall, hosting wildlife tours around South Africa, and even finding time to squeeze in a degree in Environmental studies. As you can imagine, Lori is a very busy lady, so we are very lucky that she was kind enough to answer a few of our questions! We hope you enjoy the interview and it in turn inspires you to help with animal conservation!
What first inspired you to get involved in Wildlife Conservation?
As far back as I can remember I have loved animals. I grew up in a menagerie with snakes, rabbits, dogs, cats, monkeys, and a goat – all of them pets. They were part of the family. In school I chose biology and environmental studies and learned about the wonders of nature, but also what is happening to the world’s wildlife and wild places. The more I learned, the more I wanted to help. I think of it as a privilege to be on this earth and to share it will all these amazing creatures, so many of which we have yet to discover, and I feel a sense of obligation to help save it all.
What is your prominent/favourite memory after working with animals for so many years?
My first safari. I was living in South Africa at the time and went to Etosha National Park in Namibia. The lodge had a large water hole that was lit up at night. I was alone, wrapped in a blanket, under a star-studded sky at 2am watching a parade of animals - giraffe, elephants, rhino, warthog, lion – playing and drinking. It was magical seeing these animals in the wild living how they are meant to.
Do you have a favourite animal you have worked with?
I mostly work to ignite the passion in people and to help them to care about wildlife and wild places. To do this I design and lead tours to Africa, write about conservation and animals, and live a life very connected to honoring the earth and its many forms of life. I don't work with individual animals. As I write this though I have a baby pine siskin bird I found in my garden that has a broken foot and as yet undeveloped wings that I am trying to help.
Can you tell us a little more about your time at the Jane Goodall Institute? What was your role?
I have been fortunate to know Dr. Jane for most of my life and she has been a huge influence on me. As the Africa Adventures Specialist for her organization for several years, I designed programs and led tours for members of the Jane Goodall Institute to visit Gombe National Park to spend time with the infamous chimpanzees and see the work the Institute is doing in the villages to encourage sustainable forest management. I love taking people to Africa or designing safaris for them because they come back home ‘changed’ in so many positive ways.
What is the most uplifting animal rescue/release story you have been a part of or heard of?
I believe the majority of captive animals, if given the choice of freedom or the safety and predictability of captivity would choose going back to the wild. I don't think we try hard enough to re-release animals back to the wild but the stories where the animals have been “re-wilded” are always wonderful and touching.
An ongoing program that I love takes in baby elephants that have been orphaned mainly from poaching. After three years in the care at the Sheldrick Wildlife Center in Nairobi they are transferred to Tsavo National Park. There, previously released elephants who are now wild, help reintroduce the orphans back to the wild. It is a wonderful and touching effort that requires enormous amounts of dedication and money. I have visited the orphanage many times and have written a lot about it on my blog, SavingWild.com
Who were your role models in the natural world and why?
My father, who is a naturalist at heart and a biologist by training, because he used to take me outside into nature, to parks and to botanical gardens, to identify plants and birds. At the time, as a young girl I was not that into it. But I am now so grateful for those times with him.
Jane Goodall, whose determination and focus are an inspiration for me. She did the foreword for my book Saving Wild, Inspiration From 50 Leading Conservationists.
George Schaller, who has probably helped save more wildlife and wild places than anyone on the planet, and who I interviewed for my upcoming book, Wild Lives!
The bushmen are my final choice for a role model. I spent time with them and didn’t understand until years later how their profound connection to nature, and their simplistic nomadic life, influenced my life style choices.
With your experience in the field, which animals need humans help the most?
We human animals need the most help! The planet will survive without us but we will not survive without the wonderful biodiversity of the planet. We rely on it, not the other way around.
What is the biggest issue facing wildlife today?
Population and climate change are the two over arching issues that are destroying biodiversity. Humans have lost their intimate connection to the wild and that, to me, is also a huge problem. We don't care about something we have not had an experience with. The good news is we can do something about all of the issues. We have all the technology in place to decelerate climate change for example. And we need to get outside everyday and get our children out into the woods in order to rekindle our connection so that we intimately understand what is at risk of being lost.
Do you feel people should spend time volunteering with animals, and if so, why?
Absolutely! In my book Saving Wild, Inspiration From 50 Leading Conservationists, so many of them cited experiences they had as volunteers which helped lead them to the wonderful work they are doing today to help animals.
Lori has led an incredible life, and if you want to continue to learn more about it then visit her website Saving Wild to do so. If however you have been inspired to roll up your sleeves and get hands on with nature yourself, then take a trip over to our project finder!
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