In 2020, Nayla Azmi and Jessie Panazzolo started the Srikandi Women Empowerment Fellowship for female conservationists to find their community in North Sumatra. Srikandi, meaning heroine, seemed like the perfect name to encompass a program that aimed to empower dedicated conservationists who risk their social standing to protect Indonesia’s remaining wildlife and forest ecosystems.
Jessie herself has been praised by Indonesian men as being “like a man” in her forest field site, as fieldwork is considered to be a masculine role as opposed to the social norm for women, which comprises caring roles such as parenting, teaching and housework. Simultaneously, Jessie and Nayla have both faced sexual harassment for being women in the field, facing the conundrum of being both too masculine and too feminine at once, according to society’s standards. Jessie and Nayla believe that women deserve to be praised on their own merits and skills, without being compared to other men in the field site or sexualised for their bodies.
The first Srikandi Fellowship funded four women to spend a week in Bukit Lawang with Nayla in a completely locally-run program comprising of talks, activities and community building between the women involved. Sponsored by Kathmandu, the four women had access to new gear and field clothes, and thanks to Nayla, the new gear paired nicely with a new wealth of experience, education and a safe space to grow in the industry.
The four women involved in the Srikandi fellowship in 2020 were; Selvi and Wulan, who founded Nature for change, Bridgita, who founded Sea Soldier, and and Leli, who founded Mata Air Padang Lawas. None of the women involved has ever had formal conservation training but they have already trailblazed through North Sumatra as community leaders in conservation.
Lonely Conservationists acknowledges the First Nations Peoples from the lands that all of our authors originate. Wethank all elders, past, present and emerging for their knowledge and custodianship of the natural spaces we live within.We honour the first conservationists that nourished and cared for country and understand that building and restoring relationships across cultures is pivotal to the future of our planet.
LC has been such an amazing support system, I've met a ton of great people in my field and learned so much. It really brings a sense of community to a career that can sometimes be very isolating and harsh.
Lonely Conservationists is the start of a revolution in the conservation industry. By connecting people who are often working in extremely difficult and isolated areas of the world, and allowing individual voices to be heard, Jessie, LC Founder, has created a community like no other. It not only inspires those who are working towards becoming conservationists, but supports those who are actively working in the field and those who have recently left, and shows us that we are never alone.
Many individuals in this field struggle with various mental illnesses as a result of trauma during field work, isolation, and the extremes that we are willing to face in order to pursue our passions, and Jessie is working hard not only to bring a “taboo” topic to light, but also to find a way to provide support and help others to find a way forward.
Lonely Conservationists has helped me because I’ve been able to connect with like-minded people in similar careers all over the globe. It’s good to see that there are others out there that care about the same things that I care about.
Lonely Conservationists has helped me get out of my shell and feel more confident. I feel like I’m a part of a family and have had the opportunity to meet people I would have otherwise never of done. I feel like I have support and friends all over the globe now.
This incredible community is aimed at supporting conservationists of ALL kinds. It’s a tough industry where many are taken for granted, used abused, bullied, undervalued, and all the passion in the world can only get you so far without support.
Lonely Conservationists shares the stories of people all over the world trying to make a difference, offering support, community and more. Jessie, the founder, is putting her heart and soul into building a platform that is genuinely useful and full of compassion and awesome people. It’s made me realise that even if I’m not directly working in conservation right now, my actions still have an impact and I’m not a failure.
We are all conservationists at heart, even if we are burned out, sick, or don’t have enough money to pursue it as much as we feel we should. Follow them on insta and check out their blog. You’ll feel less lonely!
Lonely Conservationists has been a revelation for me as an undergrad in my final year of an environmental science degree. It has sparked a real passion in me and has inspired me to want to do great things.
With all of the submissions from fellow conservationists, it’s provided me with an insight and unbiased, un-glorified perspective of this work force, as it is generally perpetuated on social media to be something completely other than what it actually is. I love what this group has done for me, including able to network with like minded people and continue to be inspired by people wanting to save the world.
LC is an amazing community that has helped me by giving me support and new goals for my career in conservation. Many times is hard and the reward is just so little at times but seeing what other people are doing and living is amazingly inspirational.
If Lonely Conservationists has changed your life, let us know!
All stories are written and submitted by Lonely Conservationists from all over the world. Views represented in these stories do not necessarily reflect the Lonely Conservationist community as a whole, however, all struggles are valued and represented on this platform without judgement.