"We must convert public sadness over death of Lonesome George into action if we are to save other species", warns volunteering organisation

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With journalists and social media users quick to lament the passing of a subspecies, now is the time to focus public attention on conservation.

Rothschild giraffes, Kenya

Rothschild giraffes are an endangered subspecies

It is no exaggeration to say that the recent death of the last Pinta tortoise, known as Lonesome George, caused a ripple around the world. Journalists and social media users alike were quick to lament the passing of a subspecies – and the seeming inability of the human race to change its destructive habits. Claire Howlett, of global volunteering organisation Projects Abroad, explained why now is the time to focus public attention on conservation.

“At 100 years old and with no other known members of his sub-species, George was billed as the world’s rarest creature,” said Claire. “But the list of Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable species is growing longer by the day. We in the field of conservation should be holding up this iconic creature as an example of why, in our throwaway society, conservation – and caring – is not just important but vital.”

The company, which runs a number of conservation-based projects, has just launched a new programme to help protect another endangered species: the Rothschild giraffe. There are only 450 Rothschild giraffes left in the wild, making it one of the most endangered subspecies in the world.

Based on a 3,500-acre reserve in Kenya, volunteers will be involved in tracking giraffes, observing their diet and behaviour, protecting their habitat and removing traps and snares. The reserve is home to 10% of the world’s wild population of this type of giraffe, which can grow up to six metres tall.

“The project gives volunteers a chance to work with and help protect a diverse range of wild animals and live in close proximity to nature in its truest form,” said Claire.

“People’s reactions to the death of Lonesome George shows that they do care about nature and animal preservation, but many don’t know how to convert that feeling into positive action. Signing up to volunteer on a conservation project like the Rothschild giraffe protection programme is a direct and life-changing way to act positively. It can also be career-forming or career-boosting, depending on the life stage the volunteer is at.”

As many potential volunteers are constrained by time – academic holidays or limited annual leave – or by money, most of Projects Abroad’s placements can be undertaken as a summer volunteering option, including the Rothschild giraffe programme.

“Kenya is drawing increasing numbers of European and US tourists, who come to experience its natural beauty and wildlife. So we are expecting this new conservation programme to capture the imagination of many potential volunteers. Anyone who wants to find out more can contact us or come to our London information day on 21 July.”

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David Flaschner
Projects Abroad
+44 (0) 1903 708 300
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