• Antonia Leckie

Part of My story

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

My favourite smell is created by massive raindrops cascading over parched landscapes after drought. My favourite sound that of cicadas jamming while the sunset concludes another blazing sky.

"That is my favourite smell."

As I toil at my laptop in good old England I recall children’s laughter as we climb a fig tree full of birds. I feel the excitement in my tummy as I kitesurf past a turtle. I feel myself smile as I recall a family of elephants rolling in delight in the mud.

The smell of my childhood was dusty rain; that first relief-filled sense when. That is my favourite smell. I grew up in Kenya. Even when I sit here in the UK on my laptop and think about what growing up in Kenya means.

My first few safaris ...Looking very cool

There are also strange memories of my childhood in Africa. The bustle of the market day while people tug on your hair ‘how can it be that ginger colour, yet be real?’ The screaming children in remote villages running, terrified from your ghost-like skin. The “Mzungu..sweeet‘ chants that follow you.

I know how privileged I am to have grown up with this type of freedom. These wild spaces came with a seemingly endless source of wildlife and habitats and interest. I always felt connected to the trees around me in which there were birds, beetles, snakes and in a really lucky tree; chameleons to be found.

Wild children with lots of space

Sadly we still had school to attend but that could not compare with lessons in the wild. My nickname quickly became “nature girl” and I loved it! Some of these lessons, however, were not pleasurable. A competition for our favourite flamboyant tree was won soundly by a hoard of marauding ants equipped with chemical weapons.

"I grew up curious."

I wanted to know why the ants had moved to our tree. How do people live with lions and buffalos near their villages, how far the turtles I was spotting had travelled?

I spent my gap year learning about wildlife in South Africa and I chose to study Biology at university. Biology, quite simply, is learning how to answer questions about the natural world around us.

Driving guests on a game drive in South Africa

After university, I dove into conservation, urgently asking questions, tackling conservation issues before the species went extinct.

"I worried about the lack of knowledge before action, how can you help people and wildlife if you don’t properly understand them."

I would have endless debates on how to put out metaphorical fires in conservation. My questions were always about the fires themselves, what if they were not as simple as you thought, what if you weren’t extinguishing the biggest flame, what if you were using gasoline instead of water?

Collaring Defender on Borana. Mixing research and conservation.

Of course, I realise it is a balance between knowledge – scientifically enacted -with quantifiable evidence, and coordinated action. With this balance in mind, I have started this platform to enable discussions and photographs from my observations in the field.

These are all my ideas and you are free to disagree but let’s get them out there!

"An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment." David Attenborough


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