Seeing Extinction VanishRoxAnna Breitigan July 16, 2018
The first time I laid eyes on the Scimitar-horned oryx out in the wild was a remarkable feeling. Goosebumps moment, for sure! To see an animal that was gone from its rangeland and now be returned is an incredible feeling. If nobody had bothered or cared enough to put forth a plan to save this animal, it simply would not be here today. Seeing them standing so regal in the desert and knowing all the hard work that allowed us to be here, is quite an emotional feeling. It’s difficult to find the words to describe the moment. We have gone out several times now to track the animals and each time we find them, that same feeling of awe has come over me.
This kind of story is a story of adversity, of hope, of the unimaginable becoming imaginable. It is not a story of ease and a final happy ending. Although, the animals now are roaming free, the threats do not go away. They are still being monitored to ensure their safety since they still have the adversities of living in the wild to deal with. Again, those dedicated individuals who live here to keep them and this land safe are vital to this project staying successful. They take their roles seriously, seeming to know the importance and magnitude of watching over this land and the animals who live on it.
In conservation work, there is no final finish line to cross. It’s a neverending game to just get us a little bit better, a little bit farther towards the positive, to make the world a better place. It can be a frustrating world to live in, when we are up against so many things. Governments, land owners, the climate, over grazing, money, politics, I could go on and on listing the things we are up against to make the world better for the species we care about. This world of conservation is not like others who typically have an end goal, ours is so big but yet we know we must keep trying to do more. We must do everything in our power to save what so quickly can disappear forever. What an incredible dream to have, if we could see extinction vanish as we have seen with the oryx, the wolf, the condor. We know it is feasible, and yet we face so many obstacles. For many of us in this field, it can become frustrating when others don’t see what we see. We see that life is better with these animals on this planet, there is a natural balance when they are where they belong. If only, everybody cared a little more, bothered a little more, maybe then there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. My wish would be that everybody could have that one defining, wow moment with a species (plant or animal) that would make them want to do better, be better for the planet. For now, I will hold on to these moments of seeing the oryx out on the desert and hope that they will remain here, safe and thriving. For the oryx, we have been able to see extinction vanish and the desert world is a better place for it.