Artistic pursuits set aside to focus on conservation concerns

Langley's Barbara Kaye is bound for South Africa this summer as a student volunteer

Langley's Barbara Kaye is bound for South Africa where she will take part in conservation projects as a student volunteer.

Langley's Barbara Kaye is bound for South Africa where she will take part in conservation projects as a student volunteer.

A recent UBC grad from Langley is setting her new art history degree aside to pursue another passion — conservation.

This July, Barbara Kaye will depart for South Africa with International Student Volunteers (ISV), a non-profit group based in the United States, to promote sustainable development and animal conservation in the country.

According to Kaye, South Africa has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world, but many of its animals are on the verge of extinction because of hunting, culling, urban expansion and poor land practices.

Kaye believes the hands-on work and research she and her fellow volunteers in the program will do can help South Africans counteract this trend.

“Being able to help out with conservation is something that I haven’t done extensively in the past, but I feel that there isn’t enough awareness of it,” Kaye said.

“I think that as we are developing — and it is becoming much more prevalent in society now — we need to be more considerate of our environment.

“This is my way of getting involved, giving back, becoming more aware and helping to educate others.”

The four-week program is divided between a volunteer project and extensive adventure travel.

During the first two weeks, Kaye will help with the restoration of wildlife enclosures and infrastructures, which involves looking after cheetahs, wild dogs, brown hyenas and vultures.

Each project is completed in co-operation with community leaders and local education centres to ensure that environmental practices are sustained long after the volunteers leave.

“We really get to experience the culture there by just being outside and actually doing things,” Kaye said.

“The way that I look at it, not only are we helping animals and helping local attachments realize new ways for sustainable conservation, we are also teaching them to maintain it after we leave.”

The last two weeks of the volunteer trip will be used to explore African culture, taking the student volunteers throughout South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique.

This educational portion includes visiting the Cradle of Mankind and caves in Swaziland.

“I think this helps us actually appreciate where we come from,” Kaye said.

“We can see how we interact with the environment and our landscape and wildlife and we can try to almost emulate that a little bit in our development.

“It can get pretty dirty by the sounds of it, but I am really excited.  “This is actually something I have been wanting to do for a few years now.”

In the months leading up to her trip, Kaye will be holding fundraising events to help cover costs.

For more,  about  how to make a donation, contact Kaye at Barbara.m.kaye@gmail.com or 778-808-7460.