I’m so excited to present my first interviewee for Conservation Conversations. This wonderful woman is not only an incredibly talented writer herself, she’s also a great artist and of course is passionate about the environment. Nina Seale is currently working for the World Land Trust as a writer and editor but in the past has had the opportunity to interview some amazing environmentalists. Here is what she had to say to my questions.
- Starting off with something simple, what is your favourite species and why?
That’s quite tricky, as there are several groups which I would say I find really interesting and love to watch in the wild, such as whales and cephalopods. But the animal which I would say is my favourite would be the barn swallow (Hirundo rustica). Having ties to the UK and South Africa, I am terribly envious of a bird which gets to enjoy summer in both. Also, I think swallows have the most beautiful flight of any bird- they seem to carve impossible paths into the sky, as fast and acrobatic as a tiny, iridescent fighter jet.
- So now I’m going to quiz you about your career in this sector, firstly why did you decide to get into conservation?
I always knew I wanted to work with animals, and my first idea was to become a vet. But after doing some work experience in South Africa when I was sixteen, I realised the very last thing I wanted to do was work in a small town, in a small clinic, on small animals fixing small problems. I wanted to make a difference, and help animals living in the wild.
- Sometimes working in conservation or the environment sector can be difficult, what inspires you to keep going in your career?
Right now, living in the UK, it is very difficult to live a life where you don’t make bad decisions for the environment. If you love wildlife and want to travel, you leave a big carbon footprint. If you buy almost any prepared food, it has palm oil in it. Drive to work, eat imported food, leave the light on, the list goes on. But you have to believe you can do something. You start with the little things, but I want to do big things too. That’s what keeps me going.
- What’s next on your career bucket list?
Having something published in BBC Wildlife magazine, I think.
- What’s been your career highlight so far?
Interviewing Jane Goodall. (WOW)
- Our world is pretty amazing with lots of wonderful things happening in the natural world. What natural phenomenon would you like to see or have seen?
I’m going to scuba dive in Whyalla for the cuttlefish breeding season this year- that is high on my bucket list!
- If you could let the general public know one thing about conservation what would it be?
I think I would say that my experience so far has told me that true conservation work is about working with people. We are the problem. A wild tiger doesn’t need your money, he can afford to live so long as he has his forest. So you give your money to the man who owns that forest, so he sees the value of the forest without turning it into a plantation. He’s the one who needs your money, and so if you are choosing a career in conservation, or a charity to support, you should always look out for the ones which will put your support where it needs to be- in the communities living alongside wildlife-rich areas.
- Now if you could change one thing about how the world works what would you change and why?
Either take palm oil out of the global equation or eliminate the wildlife-damaging Chinese traditional medicine practices. I think those are self-explanatory.
Now for a little favourites quick round!
- Favourite sound?
The call of the black-bellied bustard. It sounds like a champagne cork!
- Favourite fact?
Rooks and ravens build pair bonds by kissing (or bill twining/holding, sometimes called clacking. But it’s basically kissing and it is super cute).
- Favourite snack?
Salt and vinegar McCoys.
- Favourite word?
- Favourite curse word?
Cankerblossom. (I think this is the best curse word I’ve ever heard)
- Least favourite word?
Ugly. Like my above favourite word, it refers to the inside and out of something, as well as (I think) being onomatopoeic.
- What’s your best piece of advice for someone who wants to do better for the environment?
From where I’m sitting, I’d first off say please don’t lose hope. There are enough people who don’t care, who won’t do anything, for those of us who do care to be discouraged. And I would say try to find a cause or charity you believe in, and think you can make a difference with. I started doing that about four years ago when I found out about World Land Trust and started sending regular donations as a WLT Friend. I believed sending them money to protect habitats was one of the most effective things I could do. When this job came up to work for them, and use my skills to help their work, I jumped at it. I gave up a job I loved as a safari guide in South Africa to make a difference for conservation, and now I’ve been working for them eight months, and I know it was the right decision.
Thank you so much Nina for answering my questions. Truly an inspirational interview. The World Land Trust, as Nina said, is a fantastic charity so if you’d like to discover more from them click here. If you’d like to hear more from Nina I would strongly suggest checking out her work on her website ninaseale.com. She’s also on all of the social media as @