I went to see the new Lion King movie recently. The opening sequence was beautiful and inspiring and reminded me of the gorgeous African savanna. Our organization is based just a couple of hours away from that habitat, Queen Elizabeth National Park, where we take some of the Batwa children usually once a year.
But we are closer to the Montane rainforest of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a gorgeous ancient forest that until this century was home to the indigenous Batwa who lived in and among the wildlife at peace. They hunted, they gathered, but it was sustainable and harmonious.
They were not responsible for the depletion of the mountain gorilla’s habitat, or the gorillas themselves, which was caused by other tribes engaging in agriculture and deforesting the area.
Yet the Batwa have suffered more than any other group because of tourism and because of the park. We love mountain gorillas — in fact they are my personal favorite animal —and yet to save them we hurt people. Giving back is an act of environmental and social justice for the damage caused by conserving wildlife in an unjust way.
There are not simple solutions to these problems. But we can help in small ways with great love and knowing that we at RSF care about the long-term success, health, and economic development of the Batwa in this modern era.
This will help ensure that their clean water project stays intact, that their solar panels can be repaired, that their children can stay in good schools and that they can get adequate food supplies and nutrition?
"Putting my money where my mouth is" has been a driving factor in why I do what I do; why I started Redemption Song Foundation, and why I continue to work to support the Batwa and counteract any damage done by conservation efforts, no matter how well-intentioned.