Today we were involved in clearing a path through a densely wooded area on Unkhumbi’s property. To make this path we had to go through first with machetes chopping down all the grass on the trail. We also had to chop down any trees that hung too low and obstructed the path. Following the machetes, another person came through with a shovel to scoop up any plants deeply rooted in the soil. Finally, another person used a rake to crape away everything that was left leaving a beautifully clear trail behind them.

During this project, my job was to use a machete to cut away all major obstructions. I took issue with this task because it felt too destructive. I came here as a wild volunteer to promote conservation of nature, but instead I found myself destroying it to make way for humanity. Before we started the project, we were instructed no to cut live trees because this ecosystem is very sensitive to disturbance. This caused me to question whether we should be doing this at all. Is it worth clearing a path if one wrong cut can have a lasting detrimental effect on the environment?

During my contemplation of this issue, I tried to consider the other side. I figured someone as passionate about conservation as Anton should have a good enough reason for assigning this project. Anton did manage to explain of his reasons: we can track the impalas more easily. This can be useful if we need to translocate them for the purpose of conservation. In addition, the path also attracts more guests to the lodge, which increases their profits. We can subsequently use this money to fund the lodges other conservation projects.

In conclusion, while clearing a path may at first seem disruptive and selfish, it actually can contribute toward conservation. It seems that many conservation efforts can take on this form. For example, hunting and zoos can both seem cruel toward animals, but they also produce a lot of revenue that fund a variety of conservation efforts across the world. By taking a deeper look at these projects, one can gain a holistic view of conservation and the many forms it takes.

Leave a comment