Written by Dolapo Adejumo
I grew up in a rural community where I spent the first eight years of my life hearing tales of hunters interacting with local fauna. When I got in front of televisions as well, I’d stay glued to Animal Planet and Natgeo wild. I say my appreciation for the natural world was intrinsic, nothing else was as enchanting at nature for my bright young self.
I found biology the easiest and most interesting of all my subjects in secondary school. I’d stay up at night reading some chapter of a big advanced textbook I’d gotten from my mom. I’d always plant herbs and shrubs, religiously watering them, both in the dry season and weirdly in the rainy season as well. I chose to study Wildlife and Ecotourism Management for my undergraduate, despite resistance from my folks to go for something more economically prospective.
The loneliness for nature lovers in developing nations is truly palpable. I didn’t have friends and was usually treated as a weirdo who looked at birds. The climate here is really different from what I saw on TV. The disregard for other life forms has resulted in a rapid decline in most megafauna and flora populations. There’s are so many locally extinct species that have been driven to extinction due to overexploitation. Worse off is that I can’t even discuss with friends about the need to keep species around without being dismissed as weird. I feel misplaced oftentimes, unsure of where to make an impact.
Uni went by fast, and my folks were right. It was so difficult to get a job in conservation, and well-paying jobs were even more scarce. I got a job, an office job, working as support personnel at an erosion control project. I do console myself that it’s still an environmentally focused job. Sadly, I am completely unfulfilled at this job, but I’m too scared to quit because I know it’s difficult to find a job in the conservation industry. I self reflect and I cringe at how much I’ve changed under the social and emotional demands to conform and not act or talk weird.
I’m no longer the soft child who watered plants, adopted insects, reared rabbits, fed fishes, shared beds with my dog and cared for wounded lizards. I’m still yet to understand what stands in his place. I am still a passionate conservationist, hoping to regain his voice.
That’s the sum of my story and I hope it inspires others to share.
For more of Dolapo, check out @dollype805 on Instagram