I can remember sitting around a quiet, smoking firepit in the heat of a Botswana early morning during September 2013. Yellow-billed hornbills (Tockus leucomelas) and grey go-away birds (Corythaixoides concolor) surrounded us from above in the acacia and mopane trees. It was as if they were our audience, wondering what these foreigners were doing in the bush. My colleagues and I were discussing a passage from Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac. One of my group leaders, an ichthyologist (and one of the best mechanics I have ever met) had us all in a stimulating discussion about what a “land ethic” actually is.
This year in veterinary school, I took the time to read A Sand County Almanac as part of my self-prescribed, lifelong schooling in conservation. I now invite each of us, as people who work in the veterinary and animal fields, to find out what our own land ethic is.
What is this land ethic deal, anyway? And why would we care?
I think it is important to maintain our connection with the land during our daily lives, and especially during our time in veterinary school. It is easy to go to school, study, go home, go to the animal clinic, and repeat a cycle like this all the time. However, I think it is important to spend time outside, whether walking, running, horseback riding, or anything else. This keeps up connected with the environment that we live in, as well as keeping us connected with wildlife. This helps us develop our own land ethic, our own connection to the land and society in which we live. By spending time learning from the land, we can discover what we can do to help this land remain in existence for future generations.