An acclaimed author, wildlife conservationist, safari consultant, and a protege of Jane Goodall, Lori Robinson is as accomplished as she is compassionate. Growing up among some of the world’s most incredible creatures, Lori has long been a pioneer in the field of wildlife conservationist and is our inspiring woman of the wild.
Inspiring Woman of the Wild: Interview with Lori Robinson
By Natalie Kyriacou, Founder of My Green World
Lori Robinson has spent the last 30 years living and working in the African bush, being connected to nature in a way that many of us cannot begin to comprehend. A conservationist, author, safari consultant, and long-time friend of Jane Goodall, Lori’s work has spanned continents and influenced thousands. We were given the opportunity to interview Lori, who has shared her secrets of success and her stories of the wild world.
Lori, as an author, conservationist, founder of SavingWild.com, and an African Safari consultant, you have enjoyed a very illustrious career in the field of wildlife conservation. Was there a particular moment that drove you to pursue a career in wildlife conservation?
I grew up in a menagerie. We had so many animals: snakes in the bathtub, a pet monkey, and a goat who slept in my brother’s bed. They were a part of the family. My biologist father also took me into nature often and taught me about ecosystems and how everything is connected to, and dependent upon, everything else. So when I later learned the atrocities humans inflict on animals I naturally wanted to help change that. It wasn’t a moment; it was a natural progression that developed from my upbringing.
You have just published a book, Saving Wild: Inspiration From 50 Leading Conservationists, which has quickly raced up Amazon’s bestseller list. Could you tell us what inspired you to create this incredible anthology and why you chose the 50 conservationists featured in your book?
Everyone knows we are losing the world’s wildlife at a rate never before witnessed. Although there are pockets of hope everywhere, I do sometimes feel despondent. When that happens I am ineffectual.
I wondered how other conservationists, like you, people who are mired in the complexities of reversing the destructive course we are on, and who are successful at it, stay inspired and hopeful despite all the negative pressures on the world’s wildlife. I asked some of the world’s most famous conservationists and their answers so inspired me that I felt I couldn’t keep all of these inspirational words for myself. I decided to share them with the world, and my new book is the result.
Lori, you are an inspiration to many young women who wish to build a career in the field of wildlife conservation. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with our female readers that will encourage them to pursue meaningful careers in conservation despite many obstacles to women in power?
Don’t pay attention to obstacles. Most of the time they are just in our own heads and not real. I don’t even think about obstacles. Find good mentors. Remember that the most successful people have so many failures along the way. The trick is to stay on course. Time on task is the motto for getting better at most things. You become an expert, and can do great things if you are consistent, passionate, driven, and a little bit fearless.
There are so many atrocities occurring against our world’s wildlife, what motivates you to continue championing for animals in the face of so many barriers?
Once while listening to Jane Goodall, a life-long friend and mentor, I had a great moment of realization. I thought to myself, I will never really know if, or how, I am making any change in the world, but because of who I am and what I care about I have no choice but to continue to try. If we are in-line with what we are supposed to be doing in life, we won’t be satisfied or happy doing anything else. Remembering that has helped me when I feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done for wildlife.
What has been the most difficult part of your career, what barriers have you faced in your work, and how have you overcome them?
One conservationist is my book says she is asked how she copes with being in the most depressing career on the planet right now. There is so much bad news out there and it is easy to give up. But I have learned to balance my knowledge of the sad realities of what’s going on with remembering the good parts too. Focusing on the positive things being done helps us stay hopeful. I post mostly positive stories and images on my blog and social media pages. That’s where my new book has been so beneficial. The people interviewed in it are amazing and keep me, and my readers, inspired.
Why do you think animals are so important? For our skeptical readers, what would you say to them to encourage them to appreciate the importance of animals?
Nature is made up of a myriad of beings from the smallest bugs to the largest predators. They all play a part in making the eco-system function and work well. Researchers are showing more and more how important nature is to the health – emotional, physical, spiritual and mental – of human beings. We literally will not survive as a species without nature. And nature does not work properly without all its parts – all the animals, flowers, bees and trees. Every time we lose one piece of the system, like a predator, everything else in that ecosystem, including us, is effected. Ignoring animals and allowing them to be wiped off the earth is putting our own lives in peril as well.
What has been the highlight of your career (if you could choose just one)?
Knowing Jane Goodall all my life has been so wonderful in many ways. She is an amazing mentor and it was through her that I started going to Africa regularly, organizing safaris and turning others on to the beauty and magic of that continent and its amazing wildlife and wild places. Going on safari in Africa has long been the favorite thing I get to do in my work. And also coming home and writing about it on my blog is great because it prolongs my experience and allows others to share in it.
If you had any advice to give to our readers that would inspire them to become champions for our world’s wildlife, what would it be?
If you already work for conservation, never doubt for a moment that what you do for wildlife matters. It does. If you need inspiration to begin to do something for wildlife then I would say this: dream big, or small – just start. And read my book because knowing about the fifty conservationists inside will give you some ideas and help you stay inspired along the way. Most importantly, get out in nature regularly so you remember why saving it, and all its creatures, matters.