A year to challenge

6 May 2022


Born Free’s Head of Conservation Dr Nikki Tagg explains why she recently attended an Extinction Rebellion rally in London.

A photo of a London street full of Extinction Rebellion protesters with placards and flags

The year 2022 is my year of challenges. Fairly new in the senior management team of Born Free and to the responsibilities that come with it, I am pro-actively developing my skills as I strive to excel in my role. I am taking the time to understand my strengths, my unique way of learning, leading and communicating, and my values.

One of my values is nature. I have always had a strong awareness of nature, and a joy in knowing that nature is flourishing. 

But the sad truth is that nature does not always flourish, not on a global, macro scale. My whole life, the situation in so many ways has rapidly been getting worse and worse. This is not to say that nature conservation efforts have failed. I have worked my whole career in wildlife conservation, and I have not failed. I have made a difference. Born Free makes a difference every day. 

But despite our many conservation wins, there are forces pushing in the other direction, and we risk losing everything. I have recently fully informed myself of the reality and urgency of the climate and ecological crisis – since having my eyes opened by nature heroes like Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough. 

Society, in general, seems to have lost its connection to nature. Landscapes, wildlife and natural phenomena used to be inherent in people’s cultures, their learning and understanding, even their stories and languages. Today, so many people seem to strive for a different kind of wealth, for money, power, the latest and the best. Somehow, success in life has often come to mean having more, doing more, taking more. We forget that all these so-called riches depend on – and frequently degrade – the natural world within which we exist.

With this destruction, my other personal values are at risk too. Unless we take action today, our children may not have a future in which they can live free of fear. Honesty and fairness are compromised: millions of people are suffering globally, sacrificed by a wealthy minority who has the power and money to buy the silence of the world’s press and win favours of the world’s leaders. 

Dr Nikki Tagg holding a placard at the rally

“I am stepping out of my comfort zone to protect the values which matter so much to me. As a wildlife conservationist, as a mother and aunt, and as someone living on this earth.”

Therefore, in this year, my year of challenges, I am also stepping out of my comfort zone to protect the values which matter so much to me. As a wildlife conservationist, as a mother and aunt, and as someone living on this earth, I joined Extinction Rebellion last month in London as they kicked off a renewed mission to help take more people on a journey of understanding, to put the brakes on the destruction of nature, and to demand the government to listen – and then tell the truth. A whole lifetime of working in conservation cannot turn the tide of the rapid loss of nature that is happening on a global scale; right now, non-violent protest has a chance to do just that.

We were born in an extraordinary time, and we are braver than we think. I will continue to challenge myself to do more for nature, both through my work as a wildlife conservationist and in stepping up to protect my values.