You’ve heard of Jane Goodall and Steve Irwin for their world-changing work to help animals, but have you heard of any of the wildlife conservationists below?

There are dozens and dozens of people you should know about who are protecting wild species and their habitats, and our hope is that today you’ll learn about someone new who inspires you to find your own way of helping animals in your corner of the world.

Illustration of animals gathered together
Illustration by Carra Sykes for the Goodnewspaper

You may have never heard of these inspiring wildlife conservationists who dedicated their entire lives to helping animals:

1. Valmik Thapar

Valmik Thapar is an Indian naturalist, conservationist, and writer who spent decades studying India’s tiger population.

He’s one of India's most respected wildlife experts and conservationists and has produced and narrated documentaries on India's natural habitat for programs on BBC, Animal Planet, Discovery, and National Geographic.

2. Billy Arjan Singh

Conservation Quote: The eyes of the tiger are the brightest of any animal on earth. They blaze back the ambient light with awe-inspiring intensity. It would be a tragedy, and a terrible dereliction of duty, if we allowed that magical fire to burn out. — Billy Arjan Singh

Billy Arjan Singh was an Indian hunter-turned-conservationist and author.

He was the first person to attempt to reintroduce tigers and leopards from captivity into the wild. He was awarded the World Wildlife Fund's Gold Medal — the WWF's premier award — for his conservation work.


3. Laurie Marker

Laurie Marker is a research scientist and conservation biologist recognized as one of the world's leading cheetah experts.

She’s the founder and executive director of Cheetah Conservation Fund, a research and lobby institution in Namibia that studies the country's cheetah population, the largest and healthiest cheetah population in the world.

4. Lone Drøscher Nielsen

Lone Drøscher Nielsen is a Danish wildlife conservationist who established an orangutan reintroduction project in Borneo, Indonesia.

The facility quickly became the largest primate rescue project in the world, saving not only the mostly orphaned baby orangutans from the local farmers and illegal pet-traders but also gradually re-introducing the animals to the rainforest.

From 1996 until 2010, Drøscher Nielsen lived in Borneo to help save the Bornean orangutan from extinction from the loss of its natural habitat because of logging and oil palm plantations.


5. Michael Werikhe

Michael Werikhe — known as the “Rhino Man” — was a Kenyan conservationist.

He underwent long fundraising walks in the African Great Lakes region and overseas to raise funds for the conservation of rhinos and other endangered African mammals, walking for sometimes months at a time. BBC posthumously awarded him the “African of the Millennium" award in 1999.


6. Dian Fossey

Quote Graphic: When you realize the value of all life, you dwell less on what is past and concentrate more on the preservation of the future. — Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey was an American primatologist and conservationist known for her study of mountain gorilla groups in Rwanda from the mid-'60s until 1985, when she was murdered.

Fossey was a member of the "Trimates," a group of prominent female scientists studying great apes in their natural environments, along with Jane Goodall, who studied chimpanzees, and Birutė Galdikas, who studied orangutans.

During her time in Rwanda, she strongly opposed poaching and tourism in wildlife habitats.


7. Rosalie Edge

Rosalie Barrow Edge was an environmental advocate, suffragist, and amateur birdwatcher who in 1929 established the Emergency Conservation Committee to expose the conservation establishment's ineffectiveness and advocate for species preservation.

She founded the world's first preserve for birds of prey: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary near Kempton, Pennsylvania. In 1948, The New Yorker described her as "the only honest, unselfish, indomitable hellcat in the history of conservation."

8. Christian Cave

Christian Cave holding a Common Snapping Turtle in the water
Christian Cave holding a Common Snapping Turtle / Photo via Instagram

Most famous for his iconic TikTok account where he has more than 250,000 followers, Christian Cave is focused on "conservation through education." In each of his videos, he shares everything you need to know (and more) about a unique animal.

At only 22-years-old, Christian is the youngest wildlife conservationist on this list. Come for the animal education, and stay for Christian's passionate enthusiasm.

This article was originally published in Issue 12 of the Goodnewspaper.

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