Claudia is biking to protect a keystone species and one of the most intelligent and empathetic animals in the world.

Claudia is biking to protect a keystone species and one of the most intelligent and empathetic animals in the world.

Our planet is a very beautiful and very fragile place, which depends on our relationship between our environment and every creature on it, from small tiny bees to large creature such as elephants.

Growing up in the countryside of Colombia, I was surrounded with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. However, in the middle of this beautiful country, the trafficking of animals is a reality. Another sad reality of my childhood was the zoo of my home town Pereira. Our zoo has very scarce resources, yet it is home to diverse groups of wild animals that for many years live in horrible conditions. Under these conditions, I met my first elephant.

Do you remember how you met your first elephant? ­

My first elephant used to walk back and forth in a space as small as a basketball field. His image is on my heart forever. Then, years later, Pablo Escobar, a drug and an animal trafficker, left behind more elephants from his personal zoo. Escobar brought many exotic animals from Africa to Colombia, and these poor animals ended at our local zoo after Escobar’s death, following the steps of those animals already there.

This is how I fell in love with my first elephants; I didn’t understand how huge animals could be so docile and how our society placed them in a space that barely allows them to walk. It is a mystery for me to comprehend why many consider it entertainment to visit a place where it is obvious that animals are suffering.

As I traveled around our planet in the years since then, it became clearer in my mind that the future of our planet depends on the relationship between our animals, their environments, and ourselves.

I was very moved to learn that elephants are a keystone species in their environment. Without elephants, their entire ecosystem is affected. They are a fundamental part of the world around them. And so when an elephant is killed, a part of our world dies too.

An elephant family. Photo by George Lamson

An elephant family. Photo by George Lamson

I fear we will not learn the repercussions of our actions until it is too late. Then many more animals will be gone and a part of our humanity will die with them. What would aliens say if they came to visit our planet and discovered our priorities as humans?­

I have lived in and visited many other wonderful places since my childhood, from the lush greenery of Oregon to the stunning majesty of the Swiss Alps, and everywhere a respectful connection between the environment, animals, and humans is necessary to maintain its essence and protect our planet, our home.

More than anything, I want to protect the beauty and wonder of this world we live in. It is my passion for protecting nature and our environment from the harm that humans can cause that makes me take on this challenge to raise funds for the elephants.

Elephants are majestic, intelligent creatures. They mourn their dead and have perhaps the most empathy of all living species. I am incredibly saddened to think that elephants could be extinct in 10 years. If we cannot protect innocent elephants from slaughter, how can we protect our own people and our planet?

But I am hopeful too. I believe we as humans can change the harmful path we are on. As individuals, we are still constantly growing, learning, seeking. We are getting to know ourselves better, and becoming better people.

That is why I am doing this challenge and raising funds for the African Wildlife Foundation. Please support us by donating today!

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