Unknowing of what to was to come, we left the U.S. with open minds and a somewhat vague itinerary. Through the years we have always found that trusting our gut feelings, being impulsive, and letting the adventure lead the way normally works out in our favor. Arriving in India was mind-blowing; a seemingly endless array of vibrant colors, traffic from the worst of nightmares, the best and worst of smells, and swarms of people everywhere. Leaving the hustle of the big cities, we found the real treasures to be found in the countryside and off the beaten track.
During our time in this remarkable country, we experienced the beauty of the amazing wildlife, heartbreaking poverty, extreme pollution, stunning nature, towering mounds of trash, and everything in between. India consumes you from the second you arrive. From the critically endangered rhinos and tigers, ancient fortresses, stunning vistas and hazy skies, what will never leave our minds are the people. Being in India is a heartwarming experience where most will welcome you into their families and treat you like the best of friends. Not once did we feel unsafe or unwelcome. India’s endless list of issues, the main reason we visited to begin with, only stands a chance of being shortened with the help of these people. The will to live in a better, cleaner, and more organized country is there, but with a lack of government support and a path often clouded with ignorance of the ongoing perils, it will be a long and difficult journey.
Seeing the amount of development and cultivated land throughout the country was probably the most devastating part for both of us. As the hours pass riding the rails of India, you will for miles and miles only see farms and utter deforestation. More than a billion people demand a lot of space and too many resources. Of all the important and relevant conservation efforts in the world, “Nature Needs Half” is what it all boils down to. The animals are hugely important, but without the protection of the forest, our efforts to help them will be in vain.
“Nature Needs Half” is a science-based and common-sense vision of a relationship between people and nature that ensures enough natural areas of land and water are protected and interconnected – and of sufficient size and resiliency – to provide life-supporting ecosystem and biodiversity services that are essential to both human health and prosperity and a bountiful, beautiful legacy of wild nature.
Did we rid ourselves of some of our ignorance and actually get a better understanding of what is going on from this trip? Absolutely! There are endlessly deep, complex issues, not only in India, but anywhere in the world, and trying to understand it all is an impossible task. However, many small streams eventually lead to a main river. We feel humbled by this task to educate others on what we have learned, and blessed for the opportunity. The Quest 4 Understanding will continue as best we can.
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
Our quest, photos and stories would be pointless without you! Your amazing support, comments, likes, and shares are what makes it all worthwhile. In the ongoing battle for conservation, it is crucial to understand the importance of everybody’s role; whether it be through photography and blogs, teachers in schools, spreading the word through conversation, or people dedicating their entire lives to protect our future, we all play a part.