Below is a letter to the SOIW campaign from Brodie Craig affirming the value of Wilderness.
To Whom It May Concern,
In early May of this year, I embarked on a journey through the iMfolozi Park that inspired in me a passion for conservation and protection for this harrowed land.
My classmates and I, along with guides from the Wilderness Leadership School, had the experience of a lifetime. We learned valuable lessons about Zulu culture, the value of the wilderness area to the local citizens, the vast world, the beautiful animals that call the iMfolozi home, and the lifestyle we led throughout our trip. I will never forget how peaceful I felt within myself and how connected I felt with the land while in the iMfolozi. When reflecting on the trip I immediately think of the simplicity of life there. The untouched, peaceful environment, where it feels less human-run and therefore, relatively free of outside influence, was inspiring.
The iMfolozi’s existence is undeniably important, not only to the people who love it, but to the animals, and the ecological history of our planet. While on trail we often had long conversations about the threats that currently face the iMfolozi today.
The mining and poaching industries threaten the very existence of this beautiful land. These issues are why I write you today. While I read about environmental threats beforehand, it was a moment when I sat alone on a rock looking out over the Mfolozi river as a rhino drank from the water’s edge that all of the reality of those threats came crashing down on me.
These mines that pollute the air and water, that steal away the land, and these poachers that selfishly destroy the remaining species of rhino, elephant, and cat — these people are on the verge of eliminating a piece of our earth’s history for their own personal benefit. While I understand the plight of these people and their need for income to feed their families, I think we need to ask ourselves what does it make us as humans if we are forced to destroy our earth just to survive? What legacy do we want to leave?
I decided in that moment I would do my very best to make a difference. I spoke to my guides Zondi and Sipho about the threats that face the park. They were men who lived and understood this land better than almost any human on earth. If only the rest of the world understood the importance and power of one of the last untouched pieces of our earth.
I received just a sliver of the full experience, but I plan to return one day. I hope that I can bring my own children back to the iMfolozi park to make sure that they understand the importance of nature and the insignificance of humans.
I know this is not a process that is easily put in motion and stopped, but all I ask is that a change is taken into consideration. I know changes need to be made before the entire park disappears. It is up to us to give a voice to the many people that are too afraid or unable to fight for the place they love.
I know I will fight. I will not sit by and watch this land be destroyed. It is time that we put the last remaining pieces of nature above our personal gain. For these reasons I have concluded that I will try and do my part to make a difference and protect wilderness areas not only in Africa, but in my backyard as well.
Through hours a reflection and peace in the iMfolozi I thought a lot about my future and what I want to do with my life. My experience in Africa inspired in me a passion for politics and international relations that I am strongly considering as a possible career path. I plan to support environmental initiatives and donate money to organisations protecting our earth’s natural lands, and hopefully, if I am fortunate enough to have the power to do so, make a difference in protecting the last remaining wilderness on our planet.
Thank you very much.