Kate on Conservation is a conservationist, a campaigner for animal rights, a Trustee of Born Free Foundation and a passionate believer in the education of future generations; which includes working for National Geographic Kids magazine. With a blog that’s been running for more than seven years, she is committed to sharing knowledge on global wildlife issues to children and adults alike.
I love all the different blog names out there in the blogosphere and the meanings behind them. Can you tell me how you decided on your blog name?
Mine’s pretty straightforward. It’s me, Kate, discussing wildlife and environmental conservation issues. So Kate on Conservation was a no-brainer. Though I’ve heard people say ‘conversation’ instead of ‘conservation’ and perhaps if I’d had foreseen that, I would have gone with ‘Natterings on Nature’, or something like that!
Can you tell me a little bit about the focus/vision/ethos behind your blog?
I wanted to change the world. Maybe one person at a time, by sharing important knowledge about our planet’s wildlife and the threats it’s facing. I was 21-years old when I started the blog and originally it was to be a voice among young people and students, to inspire them to care about these things. I wanted to speak as a peer, so they wouldn’t feel patronised and I was specifically using my gap year experience of volunteering in South Africa with Born Free to inform the blog. But I’m not that young anymore and thanks to television series like Planet Earth II and Blue Planet II, I think students care more than ever. So now I try to reach all people of all ages through various means. And I still want to change the world.
Who, or what inspired you to start out on your blogging adventure and how has the journey been so far?
Well, my aim wasn’t actually to become a ‘blogger’, the goal when I started this was to be a campaigner and educator, spreading the word on things I felt weren’t receiving the coverage they should have been, and to inspire younger people to take an interest in the need for conservation. I actually created Kate on Conservation as part of a university course, seven years ago and haven’t looked back. I continue to write regular updates on the site, have met some of my biggest idols and inspirations to discuss world-changing issues, and have done my best to spread the word on compassionate conservation; that is, to use cases and examples of individuals to promote a bigger conservation message.
How challenging is it to find the time to write good content with work and family commitments? Do you have a set time or day that you set aside specifically for blogging?
Fridays are blog days for me. I actually find social media a more challenging beast to tame. To be ever present and answerable is incredibly hard! But it’s such a powerful way to spread messages.
Which of your blog posts has attracted the most readers?
Whenever I check my stats there are two particular blog posts that seem to fight it out for the top spot! Those are:
Harambe the silverback gorilla and the question of captivity – which I’m really pleased about, as I went to the wonderful Ian Redmond OBE for advice on gorilla behavior and psychology when I wrote this one.
David and the lion’s den – Where I called out my absolute hero Sir David Attenborough for petting lion cubs on a front cover of the Radio Times. I actually printed the blog post out and sent it to him, with a covering letter about why I had to speak out about it, and he wrote me a lovely letter back, which I wasn’t expecting!
If a reader only has time to click on one blog post of yours which one would you recommend?
A Wild Night at the Movies. It was written after the first time I met Will Travers OBE – Founder and President of the Born Free Foundation, and as a result of that blog post he invited me to meet him in London to see if I wanted to get involved with the charity more closely. 5 years later I’m Born Free’s youngest ever Trustee and I have the pleasure of sitting on the board with both Will and his mother, actress Virginia McKenna – and really the nicest team of people you could ask for. A life changing blog post!
How is 2018 unfolding so far and do you have any exciting plans or adventures planned?
In my personal life, I became a first-time Mum in October last year and I just got married at the beginning of April and recently returned back to work from maternity leave; so it’s all been very fast-paced and stuffed with new life perspectives and endless plans. It was an honour to be a UK Blog Award finalist for the third year in a row last month – and although I didn’t win, it means my readers appreciate what I’m doing enough to keep voting me into the finals!
In terms of what’s coming up — so many plans! I feel I’m growing into my role as a Trustee of the Born Free Foundation at the moment — looking to explore how I can use my skills to the best advantage of my favourite charity. I’ve been asked by a couple of schools to visit and deliver animal-themed assemblies and I’ve got some big expansion plans for the blog; including a bit of a re-design. Watch this space!
What would you say to anyone thinking about starting their own blog?
Do it with a purpose. The best blogs I read have a clear motivation to either educate (on wildlife, children’s education, cooking, living with an illness, etc.), inspire (travel wanderlust, eco-friendly living), or entertain (parenting anecdotes, dating stories, etc.). And find your niche. For example if you have a disability and still succeed in living a green lifestyle (like Eco Fluffy Mama), or you’re a parent whose battled infertility (like The Cuckoo Mama) or food bloggers that consume only vegan, gluten free meals (like Hey! Dip Your Toes In), you’re instantly more fascinating than your average Joe!
What keeps you motivated in everyday life and in the blogging world?
The desperate plight of so many of our planet’s wild species. When you hear that there are less than 20,000 lions left in the wild in Africa; that if things remain as they are, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050; and when in 2018 we all lost the last ever male Northern White Rhino in existence — it’s enough to motivate me to spend the rest of my life trying to make a difference.
A couple of years ago when I was employed by Discovery, I worked on UK school resources to accompany the amazing documentary Racing Extinction. Researching the facts and watching that documentary was the reason I stopped eating meat and consuming dairy products. That documentary is something I return to when I’m in need of a little motivation. It’s shocking and so important!
How has blogging impacted your life? Has your outlook on the world changed? Has the way you live changed?
My blog sort of is my life now. I mean that in a really positive way. At the beginning of this journey I was someone who loved animals but remained somewhat ignorant to what’s really going on out there.
The livestock and dairy industries, legal and illegal wildlife trade, exotic pets, canned hunting, temple elephants… it’s a cruel world and my blog has given me the means to have a real insight into it. Over the last seven years, thanks to my blog, I’ve moved towards a vegan diet, campaigned at various protests, gathered signatures on petitions, chosen a career path in educating children about wildlife, tirelessly spread the word about the Born Free Foundation and their work, chosen to be a Mum who uses cloth nappies on their baby and I’ve tried to shine a light on as many brilliant conservationists and projects as possible. And I’ll continue to do so. Plus, my blog probably helped me get my job at Nat Geo Kids.
If you had to recommend one other blog that inspires or encourages you what would it be?
Eco Fluffy Mama. She writes about managing periods in an environmentally-friendly way. That’s a huge issue and I admire her for tackling that. If you think about it, plastic tampon applicators are probably the most quickly used and quickly discarded plastic product out there. Then there’s all the plastic wrapping, the sheer number of sanitary towels going into landfill; the amount of sanitary products that get flushed down the loo and end up clogging up our sewerage tunnels. Imagine if we were given the knowledge to tackle that with green alternatives! That’s what Eco Fluffy Mama is doing.
We don’t talk about periods and sanitary products enough as it is. I certainly didn’t learn enough at school and it’s remained a taboo in every work environment I’ve ever had and us women probably don’t talk to our GPs enough about our menstrual cycles even – especially when so many women, like myself live with the challenges of Endometriosis. To have a source of education where products are candidly discussed and reviewed, and you can even learn how to dispose of the water from rinsing moon cups and cloth sanitary pads in the most environmentally-friendly way (apparently it’s great for plants!) is just brilliant.
Where can we find you on social media?
Pinterest: Kate on Conservation