If you love it, open your wallet

Gorongosa National ParkSpend a few seconds on the web and you’ll see another species or habitat in trouble. It’s depressing! But as Valentine’s Day approaches my heart is lighter as I follow the actions of a tech millionaire putting his money where his lions are.

Mozambique had some of Africa’s most beautiful national parks until war destroyed them. Peace was restored but poachers moved in to hunt the animals not killed by soldiers. Over 90% of the wildlife was gone and a beautiful landscape eerily empty. Enter Gregg Carr, an Idaho businessman who made a lot of money in high-tech and now spends more time giving money away than making it.

In 2004 Carr entered a 20-year contract with the Government of Mozambique to restore the crown jewel of their park system – Gorongosa National Park. It will cost Carr $40million but he feels the exchange is worth it.

“In some ways Gorongosa saved me, because I turned 40, and I wasn’t in the mood to start another hi-tech company, even though that had been very fun; and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was a big believer in human rights, but the point is, you want to actually get out and do something. You don’t want to just talk about something. And what Gorongosa did is it gave me a mission for all the rest of the days of my life, and I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made friends. It’s given me an entire philosophy of existence, and I just can’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t done this.”

Scientists have declared Gorongosa a diversity hotspot and I got a virtual tour at a presentation by Bob Poole who has been filming park wildlife for PBS and National Geographic. Poole says there has been a remarkable comeback in wildlife numbers with the combination of peace, science, and Carr’s financial support.

Even though I don’t have millions to spare, I will follow Carr’s example and keep donating to organizations that help wildlife. It is my valentine to the earth. How will you share your love?

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