Wild Ball shows students what conservation should mean for activists, and what it can achieve

In an increasingly disengaged and uninterested student body, events like this year’s Wild Ball shows the success and importance of conservation efforts.

March 26 marked the greatly successful union of a number of societies with mutual interests, in order to host an evening full of all the usual trimmings of a society ball, but with a philanthropic goal. The extent to which the Trinity Conservation Group’s Wild Ball, one of the most anticipated events of the Hilary Term, has progressed is dizzying given the humble origins of the concept.

The idea was first hatched when the Trinity Conservation Group organised a meeting in September of the Dublin University Environmental Society, Global Development Society, and Trinity Ents among others, beginning the excitement for what the multiple groups hoped to be an evening to raise funds and awareness about two charitable organisations, as well as conservation in general. Hopes were soon dampened when, just a few months after the planning began, the Central Societies Committee (CSC) refused to grant the status of “society” to the group. The Conservation Group was refused recognition by the CSC on the grounds that it was too similar to other existing societies on campus, such as the Environmental Society.

“Hopes were soon dampened when (…) the Central Societies Committee (CSC) refused to grant the status of ‘society’ to the group’s proposal”

The decision made at the close of last year is indicative of the student body’s general attitude. Namely, the lack of full collective support for the plight of endangered overseas wildlife across the student body, as seen in the TCD Plastic Solutions. Had it not been for the incredible cooperation and determination of the Environmental Society, the event would likely have failed. This attitude became glaringly obvious last year during the organisation of Extravaganzoo, a similar project led by the Zoological Society.

Extravaganzoo took place on March 23 2018, with half of the money from each ticket sold going to Save the Rhino, an incredibly effective charity that works to save and protect viable rhino populations and their habitats. The Zoological Society found that selling tickets, even to close friends, was a surprisingly difficult task, especially considering the price of just €15 per ticket, which included drinks on arrival.

Additionally, just four days before the event, Sudan died. Sudan was one of only three living northern white rhinoceroses in the world, the last known male of his subspecies. Born in the wild in 1973, Sudan was captured at the age of two and taken to Dvůr Králové Zoo in Czechia, the only place to breed northern white rhinos successfully in captivity. Sudan had a daughter, Najin, and a granddaughter, Fatu. The rhino family returned to Africa in 2009. Sadly, they could not breed naturally. Just a year before his death, a Tinder account was created for Sudan, the aim was not to find love, but to help fund the development of IVF for rhinos. The account won Sudan and the cause of the rhinos thousands of fans from across the world and raised much-needed awareness about the plight of rhinos in the contemporary world.

Despite this tragedy, for an event which sparked concern from all corners of this globe for the loss of our creatures, there was strikingly little acknowledgement among Trinity students, let alone discussion of the loss and what repercussions may occur. One reason for such an incredibly scarce awareness could simply be owing to the distance, how far removed Europe is from the tragedy of wildlife loss in Africa. According to Africa Geographic, poachers are currently shooting elephants “at a rate of about 100 per day, or about 30,000 every year,” proportionate to 10% of the population being killed annually; more elephants are poached than are born. According to James Clarke, author of Overkill: The Race to Save Africa’s Wildlife, rhinos are also being slaughtered, at a rate of three a day.

Extravaganzoo had a turn out of just 50 people and around €400 was raised for Save the Rhino International. Much fun was had and the collective faith of the Zoological Society and their patrons was somewhat restored. Following on from this success last term, Wild Ball happily saw even more support, indicating a substantial rise in awareness for issues that profoundly affect the world of conservation. A total of 190 tickets were sold for Wild Ball. The Fitzafrenic kindly played a free set that exceeded all expectations. The event raised a whopping €1861; a total of €930 for each charity.

“Despite this tragedy, which sparked concern from all corners of this globe (…) there was strikingly little acknowledgement among Trinity students”

Half of the money raised from the Ball was donated to the All Ireland Pollinator Plan (AIPP). The AIPP advocates that everyone, from farmers to local authorities, schools, gardeners, and businesses, come together to try and create an Ireland where pollinators can thrive. Their website states that one third of Ireland’s bee species are threatened with extinction due to the drastically reduced number of flowers and safe nesting sites. With the money raised, a Trinity initiative will be put in place to both raise awareness for the plight of bees and provide nesting sites for our buzziest of friends.

The second half went to Tusk Trust, an organisation that has, for the past thirty years, helped pioneer an impressive range of successful conservation initiatives across more than 20 countries, increasing vital protection for over 10 million acres and more than 40 different threatened species in Africa. To those who attended, thank you. The money you contributed will aid in the conservation of some of the world’s most threatened species, the awareness you helped to raise within Trinity, simply by attending, will undoubtedly go a long way towards the wildlife conservation efforts of various groups within College, and will perhaps contribute to the successful creation of a Trinity Conservation Society.

The Trinity Conservation Group, the Environmental Society, Ents and Global Development hope that, having successfully dreamed, organised, and partied through such an event with such wonderful results, the students of Trinity will take it upon themselves to partake in conservation efforts. To see an annual return of Wild Ball, to raise money, to raise awareness, and to pull together in the fight against poaching, the illegal wildlife trade, and the loss of our world as we know it.