"Although my passion for animals burned deep within me, I was uncertain about transforming it into a fulfilling career. In pursuit of my university education, I eventually embraced a path in finance, aligning with my parents' aspirations," Elle, now a dynamic advocate within a Chinese wildlife conservation NGO, recounts her remarkable journey from finance to the enchanting world of wildlife protection.
Is it possible to protect animals for a living?
During her second year at university, Elle enrolled in China House's program, an opportunity that would change her life forever by introducing her to the world of wildlife conservation in Kenya.
At the time, she was pursuing a finance degree, a field she had little interest in. Her heart longed for the company of animals rather than crunching numbers. Even though expressing her love for animals might have seemed unconventional, Elle couldn't contain her excitement when she encountered a majestic giraffe in Kenya.
Surrounded by naysayers, Elle faced the daunting question of whether she could forge a career in wildlife conservation—a field often dismissed as "un it's not a real job."
Encountering the Last Northern White Rhinos
During her time in Kenya, Elle explored numerous wildlife conservation organizations to gain insight into their missions and initiatives. A pivotal moment occurred during her visit to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to the last northern white rhinos. Elle was astounded to uncover the close connection between business and wildlife conservation. Illegal wildlife trade emerged as a critical issue within the field, while conservation organizations ingeniously employed business models to sustain their missions. Elle had found the bridge between her current finance major and her love for animals—a pathway from her present state to her ultimate dream.
A New Chapter Begins
Armed with newfound knowledge, Elle returned to China and began sharing stories of the last northern white rhinos in Kenya and the battle against illegal wildlife trade. Her mission was to raise awareness and combat this illicit industry. With her research experience from Kenya, Elle embarked on an undercover investigation into the illegal wildlife trade along the Myanmar-China border. A few months later, her dedication and expertise led to a volunteering opportunity with an international NGO. She ventured to Laos, conducting covert investigations into the illegal trade of ivory and tiger parts. Armed with this invaluable experience, Elle pursued further studies, gaining admission to Duke University's environmental policy program. Here, she delved deeper into understanding how to preserve global wildlife and ecosystems. Post-graduation, Elle secured a position with a wildlife conservation NGO in China. "As a global citizen, I'm committed to doing all I can to protect the world's wild animals," affirmed Elle, who is now on a steadfast journey toward her lifelong dream.