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By Natasha Kabanda

You have probably heard the word “conservation” far too many times to ignore. However, many of us still wonder what a conservationist actually is. Well, that thought crossed my mind several times recently and so I took interest in learning more about the subject.

 Conservation is an umbrella term for a lot of different activities. Firstly, the protection of species from extinction. That is not all though, conservationists are interested in the maintenance and restoration of environments which are often habitats for various flora and fauna. Conservation is also about the protection biological diversity. Quite a mouthful, right? Well, all these actions are equally important for the sustainable maintenance of a healthy planet for us and future generations.

A conservationist is a person who advocates for the protection of life on this planet. One who believes in the preservation of all that we hold dear and that keeps life as we know it, going.

For us to create a safe sustainable planet for ourselves and the future generations, we all have a role to play.  Here are three relatable ways you can be a conservationist and participate in protecting this planet.

Firstly “reduce, reuse and recycle”, this phrase that is as useful as it is catchy.  Scientific research now estimates that the world uses over 500 billion plastic bags a year, that is a whopping 150 bags for each person on earth. To say this is unsustainable is an understatement, especially because plastics can take anywhere from 20 to 500 years to decompose, depending on the material and structure. Despite most grocery stores charging a fee for plastic bags in Zambia, pollution is still rife. So do your part, think twice before you buy that plastic bag.

Next go wild. Animal conservation is just as important as the conservation of our oceans, land, and air. In fact, many animals are an integral part of a healthy ecosystem. How can you be part of the work to protect these animals? Well, you need not quit your job and move to the bush to become a ranger. You could simply go on holiday. Yes, you read correctly, go on holiday. Zambia is world renowned for its wildlife. From the elephant in the rich Luangwa valley in the east to lions of the Liuwa plains in the west, Zambia is home to spectacular scenes experienced nowhere else in the world. 

Although much of tourism in Zambia is concentrated around a limited number of national parks, such as the South Luangwa, Kafue, Lower Zambezi, the rest of the country also has considerable attractions. Zambia has a total of 21 national parks and 34 game management areas which represent over one third of our country’s land mass. Zambia’s commitment to conserving vast tracts of land for conservation is commendable. More than ever domestic tourism is needed as many businesses struggle to stay afloat and are offering significant discounts. There are opportunities for Zambians to not only see more of their country but support local businesses and local communities. Domestic tourism is one of Zambia’s most promising prospects for economic growth and sustainable conservation efforts.

You might be surprised to read about our next type of conservation, cultural conservation.  Yet it is the most relatable, seeing that humans are cultural beings. “Culture”, as a concept, refers to the whole complex of learned behavior of some group of human beings: their beliefs, social norms, material possessions, and language. Historically, conservation policies have ignored the potential role of traditional African cultural practices in contributing to conservation goals. However, recently there has been a growing interest in these practices, although recognition in official conservation policies is still minimal in many countries.

Traditional cultural practices, among other strategies, have the potential to enhance sustainable resource use and conservation and, therefore, realize the desire for ecological and social sustainability. By conserving our culture, we can conserve our environment.

To sum it up conservation is all about keeping our planet earth happy by taking care of her. The happier she is, the happier we are.  We are all conservationists in the making but it is up to us to work towards creating a safe and sustainable environment for all of us and future generation to enjoy. As the saying goes “together we can”.


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