Real Simple Magazine recently asked their readers to write in with the top 3 things on their life's "must-do" list. I needed to think long and hard about this and I came up with the following short list, though there are many more things I'd love to do:
1.) Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef
2.) Learn to play the piano
3.) See the mountain gorillas in Rwanda
4.) Speak another language fluently
5.) Visit Sicily with someone I love
6.) Buy a home
Taking the Rwanda "must-do", I did a bit of research after hearing the tail end of a story about mountain gorillas on NPR. Many scientists have traveled to Rwanda to study the animals, and many conservation groups are working round the clock to save them and their habitat, in the face of poachers and a never-ending stream of wars in that nation. The gorillas grew used to seeing people, though once the genocide grew rampant throughout Rwanda, scientists withdrew from their work with the gorillas. The populations of the animals has been falling ever since, until now.
It appears that the gorillas could sense the stress of the wars going on in their area, and their birthrates declined as a result. Another well-supported theory suggests that once the scientists withdrew, the gorillas missed them, became depressed, and stopped having as many young. Now that peace has been restored, even though tenuous, to Rwanda, the gorillas population is growing and birthrates are up for the first time in 24 years.
The natural world often goes overlooked in war-torn areas. The human casualties of conflict are heart-wrenching, and there are other species that are also harmed in the wake of war. They suffer in silence. All the more reason to do whatever we must do to keep the peace - there i more at stake than our own existence.