Saving Sudan’s Wildlife, One Volunteer at a Time

Mutasim bird watching in the Sunut Forest
Mutasim bird watching in the Sunut Forest

As a child in Khartoum, Sudan, Mutasim Adam enjoyed above all when the power went out in his home and he and his friends gathered to play by moonlight.

“I felt in those moments like my spirit was born,” Mutasim says. “Playing in the moonlight was, for me, a kind of inspiration.”

Mutasim felt an early attraction to the natural world and his place in it.

“We live in the midst of the beauty and the wonders of creation,” Mutasim says. “We have enormous potential to enrich life, to make it better for all.”

Mutasim, now the director of the Sudanese Wildlife Society, is working to protect the country’s natural resources, building understanding along the way.

In one of Mutasim’s volunteer projects, he and others gathered to pick up trash in the Sunut Forest in Khartoum. The forest is home to 87 bird species and remains one of the last urban forests in the country.

But, as Mutasim explains, the area is also vulnerable to habitat loss, overgrazing and improper waste disposal. Mutasim and his colleagues are hoping to address the last.

“I was especially proud of my fellow volunteers that day,” Mutasim says of the Sunut Forest cleanup. “They were each a part of something — something that matters.”

Sunut Forest, Khartoum
Sunut Forest, Khartoum

“Biodiversity conservation is not just fieldwork,” Mutasim adds. “It’s building and sharing our knowledge; it’s taking care of what we love.”

One challenge facing Mutasim and others seeking to protect wildlife is the increasing demand for bushmeat in Sudan, a trend compounded by the country’s civil unrest.

“Without dedicated, trained individuals, the world’s wildlife do not stand a chance of survival,” Mutasim says. “Now, more than ever, we need new voices — new conservationists — to come together and act.”

Mutasim advises others interested in conservation, especially those still in school, to find a project that speaks to them and to get started.

“I would encourage every young person to join a community service project,” Mutasim says. “Volunteer early and often; it’s then that you have the flexibility to do so.”

“Volunteering is also a great way to gain experience in the field,” Mutasim adds. “If you don’t yet qualify for a paid position, volunteering is one way to get your foot in the door.”

For Mutasim, it’s those early experiences that shaped him and that keep him motivated today.

“The next generation will remember you for what you gave, for how you helped, for what you shared,” Mutasim says.

In the end, Mutasim is building a community of volunteers interested in saving the planet and its many resources.

“I love my fellow volunteers,” Mutasim says. “They are my brothers, my sisters, my heroes.”

Interested in Mutasim’s work? Learn how you can volunteer to serve Africa on our #YALIServes page.

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