Trevor Frost is an explorer, field biologist, photographer, and conservationist. He has spent the last 5 years working with scientists and conservation groups to save endangered wildlife and wild places.
Parks around the world are in peril. Everyday there are alarming reports of illegal logging, mining, and poaching inside parks from the United States to Vietnam. And no parks are safe. In fact, in Virginia, where I live, the states most famous park, Shenandoah National Park, has a poaching problem. There, every year hunters kill black bears inside and around the park for their gall bladders, which are sent to Asia, where bear bile from the bear gall bladder is one of the most treasured of traditional Chinese medicines. In ancient Chinese medicine it is believed that bear bile can treat ailments of the liver and stomach among other medicinal uses.
While problems with parks in the US exist the problem elsewhere is far more serious. In South Africa last year rhino’s were completely exterminated from Krugersdorp game reserve and only three months ago in India park rangers killed two poachers in Kaziranga national park and found fresh rhino horns in their bags.
In Madagascar, parks throughout the country continue to be looted for rosewood and lemurs and in Indonesia illegal logging occurs in 37 of the 41 national parks.
The wildlife and forests inside parks aren’t the only ones at risk however – park rangers, local people, and conservationists are also in danger. Just weeks ago in the Democratic Republic of Congo eight park rangers were killed defending mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park, one of the world’s oldest national parks. Then in Peru illegal loggers are killing indigenous people and burning their villages in the Amazon rainforest. And finally, there are the well-known stories of conservationists such as Dian Fossey who was murdered by poachers for defending mountain gorillas in Rwanda, and Amit Jethva who was murdered for defending a national park in India from illegal mining.
As noted in the beginning and as evidenced by the stories above, parks in are in serious trouble, in peril really. Parks remain are best way of protecting wildlife and wild places, but we must take better care of them. We must focus as much energy on taking care of parks as we do on creating new parks. If we continue to create new parks while ignoring existing parks, we might find that in the near future we are left with parks devoid of wildlife and scarred by mining and logging. I don’t want that future. Do you? If I win the grant I’ll be able to begin to address this serious issue on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia where it is particularly serious, but I’ll need your vote first!