JANELLE KAZ | MOTOGYPSY
ANTI-WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING, MOTORCYCLE JOURNALIST
I’ve been living on a motorcycle for years now, different bikes on different continents. The only thing I’ve been passionate about longer than riding motorcycles is wildlife. Perhaps my most favorite achievement in this lifetime is bridging these two worlds, of fueling motorcycle travel with my purpose of honoring the wild and ending the illegal wildlife trade.
I first learned about the trafficking of wildlife while (in university, studying biology) studying for my biology degree. It ignited this flame inside my chest that still burns today. I knew in that moment my life would be devoted to protecting animals from this dark trade….
After my degree, I moved to SE Asia, the heart of the illegal wildlife trade. My journey began by creating wildlife and environmental education programs for children. This work inspired me to document the positive actions taken by those I witnessed protecting ecosystems and the animals & people who depend on them.
My passions have taken me on solo journeys from the wild places of Laos to those of Colombia, (racking up adventures and stories while) riding nearly 60,000 miles in the past 4 years. I’ve found that being a woman alone on a motorcycle in far-off places is a compelling way to talk about conservation to those who otherwise may not listen. I hope to be a window into the world of earth and wildlife protection, helping the helpers and connecting people with the life on our earth, in all its beautiful variety, from the vantage point of my two wheels.
The effects of Wildlife Trafficking are devastating and have far-reaching implications. This illicit trade has become very big business, estimated to be a $20 billion dollar a year industry. Often operated by the same people responsible for trafficking guns, drugs and humans, it is a threat to national and international security. Poachers, traffickers, and highly organized crime syndicates are ravaging our planet as they pursue profit at any cost.
The trade hinders the social and economic development of already vulnerable countries with poor law enforcement, perpetuating corruption and porous borders. It has disastrous effects on global health, through the transmission of diseases, resulting in hundreds of billions of dollars of economic damage worldwide. Most evident are the detrimental effects on the environment, with animals suffering violent atrocities and the more rare they become, the more valuable they are on the market, driving them to extinction. Biodiversity is the source of our planet’s greatest wealth and resiliency in the face of environmental instability, and the loss of it threatens our very existence.
The fight against wildlife trafficking is about more than just saving animals. Children and future generations are losing their birthright and natural heritage —and the ability to manage those resources in a sustainable way. Though I am uncertain of humanity’s trajectory, I choose to remain hopeful. By focusing on the people and projects on the frontlines of conservation, more eyes and attention will bring more support, and successful initiatives can be implemented elsewhere.
I believe we are all truly wild and we are inextricably connected to the Earth, the animals, and each other, and through the support of a worldwide community, I have truly never felt alone. Join the ride!