Nature’s Frontline: my personal journey

Photo of Liz Bourne
By Liz Bourne, Project Director, Nature’s Frontline

When I was a child I wanted to be Gerald Durrell, or David Attenborough. Unfortunately, neither were very likely given that I was only 9 and I am female. However, that didn’t stop me reading all I could about natural history and watching as many episodes of Life on Earth as was humanly possible without getting told off by my mum.

David Attenborough with wild gorillas in his Life on Earth TV series

Of course, I probably should have been outside watching squirrels and tracking badgers, but there wasn’t a whole lot of wildlife in suburban Hertfordshire where I grew up, unless you count the local boys’ school. So I had to comfort myself with hours of watching wildlife programmes on the TV and reading numerous books about gorillas, elephants and spiders.

Visiting Africa

When I was 14 I was lucky enough to visit Kenya with my family. We did the usual tourist safaris and beach holiday thing, but for me it was a turning point. Not only did I see some of the amazing wildlife I had last seen with Attenborough on the television, but I was also lucky enough to meet some of the people who had dedicated their working lives to conserving them. From the knowledgeable guides who could spot a leopard in a tree from an unnerving distance, to the rangers who appeared out of the bush with orphaned elephants, these people inspired me to admire and respect the essential link between people and the environment.

After studying for a degree at university, I worked in Kibale, Uganda, on a chimpanzee habituation programme. I was there for three months, both in the forests and at Entebbe Wildlife Education Centre. Again, I met some extraordinary local people whose knowledge of the local environment was vast.

Nature’s Frontline

Nature’s Frontline is in many ways the culmination of these experiences. My love for natural history, coupled with my belief that local knowledge and community partnership are essential components for conservation, means that Nature’s Frontline is a great opportunity for me to support a cause that genuinely means something to me. By raising awareness of the work wildlife rangers do, I hope that my own children will be able to see the same amazing diversity of wildlife on the television as I did and, if they are lucky, in real life too.