I have always loved writing, and spent much of my childhood sitting in corners finding out what I could make words do, and how they could paint pictures of the things I’d enjoyed that day, that week or that year. When I was 21, I went to South Africa, spent weeks feeling homesick and lost and out of my depth, and then, one day, when one orphaned monkey leaned on me and gave the first tentative signs of trust, I learned that I loved non-human primates as well.
Since that day, I have nurtured an increasing interest in conservation, pursuing it in forests, up mountains and in classrooms and, finally, letting it take over. It is no longer something I want to do, but something I have to do; it is not a job or even a career, but a way of life.
Everywhere I have been, I have written – happy words, sad words, thousands of words – and let only a few people see them. Those people told me my writing made them care and transported them to the incredible places I mentioned, but it was only at the end of last year that it occurred to me that I could show my writing to a wider audience, and that there is a place for emotive words in the conservation discourse.
Starting with a post about Barbary Macaque Awareness and Conservation, the organisation for which I am Research and Development Officer, beinghummingbirds.com was born. The title, ‘How to be a hummingbird’ comes from Professor Wangari Maathai, whose quote, ‘I will be a hummingbird; I will do the best I can’ inspires me more than any other to continue to make an effort in conservation, even when the problems to overcome feel insurmountable. I hope that my writing helps people share the emotional connection I have to the people, projects and animals I work with, and that by fostering that connection, more people will strive to be a hummingbird too.