Story written by Carolina Gamez Brunswick
My history in biology began when I was little. I think all biologists have that curiosity from childhood and that great love of nature. The moment I realised that I had to study to become a biologist was when I saw a Discovery Channel moment, in which they did a short film about the life of the conservation biologist Ian Tchagra Little. The exact moment that I saw it, I realised I wanted to do that with my life.
I studied biology and graduated in 2013, doing a thesis on the optimal habitat of the black bear in a national park. From there, I was a teacher for a while and entered a conservation Master’s degree. I worked on my thesis with niche models to understand the spatial dynamics of species, and a bit of anthropology using cave paintings as evidence of species over time – and how climate change affects them.
Finishing my Master’s degree, I started working in a NGO that focuses on island conservation. There, I worked monitoring fauna and flora in the remote Revillagigedo Islands in Mexico. This was one of the best experiences of my life. Working in remote places for long periods is incredible, but at the same time, it is demanding – both physically and mentally.
To know almost unexplored places, to work with endemic fauna; that is the golden dream, at least for me. But there are always things that make it hard to follow a career in conservation. There are many obstacles – especially in my country – to get a decent salary and adequate benefits for the work we do. We all do it with pleasure, and we love what we do. Although it is our strength, that also makes it a weakness, since we are expected to volunteer or receive very bad payment for our knowledge and effort.
Today, I am in a family company and dedicated to saving water and energy at the industrial level, especially because of the damage to the aquifers and wastewater that exists in a city as big and industrial as the one I live in. At the same time, I am starting an NGO (together with two amazing women) to implement reforestation plans both in the city and in the national parks we have around us.
A life in conservation is demanding; you feel that you are always swimming against the current. It is often very sad to see how few people care about biodiversity and the preservation of our planet. But we must remember that we cannot give up; little by little, we are opening a gap in the consciousness of people. Our obligation is to never stop environmental education and fighting for our cause. Even if it’s very demanding, I would always choose the path I chose; I would never change any decision made in my career. The places that I have known, the animals and plants that I have observed, the small actions that I have made in favour of conservation changed my life, and they keep changing me.
I really connected with your last paragraph! “Swimming against the current” is a great way to put it, but it’s more than worth it!