This article first appeared in Texas Lifestyle Magazine on May 16, 2019.
What happens when a 9-year-old girl meets a professional guide while on safari in South Africa? They turn intercontinental emails into a book that encourages a new generation to advocate for animals around the world.
‘Let’s Go On Safari!’ chronicles the real-life experiences of Kate Gilman Williams (the girl) and Michelle Campbell (the guide) by inviting the reader to experience the thrill of a safari. The book’s mission is to turn children’s natural love for animals into advocacy and conservation.
In 2018, aged 8, Kate traveled to South Africa with her parents. At the time, the Austin, Texas third-grader had no way of knowing that her journey would mark the beginning of life-changing activism.
During their travels, Kate met professional safari guide Michelle Campbell, a native of South Africa. Campbell worked as a safari guide for six years and gets excited hearing the whoop of a hyena, the roar of a lion or that deep rumble as an elephant approaches.
Every day for two weeks, Kate, her parents and Campbell ventured into the wilderness to observe the animals living in their natural habitats. With mutual love and respect for animals, Kate developed a friendship with her safari guide who would go on to teach her how humans are the greatest threat facing African wildlife.
Campbell explained how poachers put out snares to trap animals. The Williams family learned startling facts of how a rhinoceros is killed every eight hours and roughly 100 elephants a day are killed by humans. After hearing this, Kate believed her generation should help save these animals so, after leaving South Africa, she was determined to do something about the harm humans were inflicting.
Proceeds from every book are donated to organizations across the globe that work to protect and make a difference in the lives of animals, aid in the poaching crisis and promote youth activism. These organizations include The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Jane Goodall Institute, Global Wildlife Conservation, and The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund.
“Installing respect for and love of wildlife within our youth is key to ensuring the survival of earth’s most treasured species,” says Angela Sheldrick, CEO of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. “Kate’s clever book takes children on a journey, introducing readers to Africa’s animals in such a way that one cannot help but fall in love with them and want to play a role in securing their future.”
Campbell continues advocating for wildlife by connecting people to conservation initiatives, encouraging children through education and exposure to saving endangered animals, and chronicling her conservation involvement and adventures on Wild Wonderful World.
The friendship between the unlikely duo demonstrates the power of women working together no matter their ages or distances apart. Kate is the youngest author in history to sign two publishing contracts and ‘Let’s Go On Safari!’ proves advocacy has no age limit, and kids can save animals on the brink of extinction.
May 17th is Endangered Species Day and is an opportunity for people of all ages to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and discovering how everyday actions can help with their protection.
‘Let’s Go On Safari!’ is available now.