When the grownups give up on protecting the earth and its numerous creatures, the youth are left to pick up the baton. Cameron Oliver was just 11 years old when he first learned about the plight of camels living in the desert, 50% of which die long, slow deaths after consuming plastic. Four years later and the South African activist who attends the Al Yasmina School in Abu Dhabi is still campaigning at other schools throughout the Emirates to raise awareness, but his pocket money is beginning to run out and he needs help.
A desert dweller’s best friend
Camels are a desert man and woman’s best friend. They can withstand extraordinary temperatures, walk for days without requiring water, and their milk is far healthier to drink than cow milk.
Without them, it would be impossible for many desert dwellers to survive. But this extraordinary symbiotic relationship is at risk because of something so innocuous as plastic bags.
Like the Midway Atoll, where thousands of baby albatrosses die each year after consuming plastic, the desert has become a dumping grounds for plastic and other human-generated debris. When camels feed on the plastic, it calcifies in their gut and blocks their intestines. Like the birds, camels eventually die of starvation because the plastic prevents them from being able to absorb nutrients into their bodies.
The situation is so serious that an art exhibition devoted to plastic rocks weighing up to 50kg recovered from UAE camel carcasses took place in the United States earlier this year.
Wildlife conservation – a part of the South African national psyche
Because of his upbringing in South Africa, according to Gulf News, where wildlife conservation forms a large portion of the national psyche, Oliver is particularly sensitive to these senseless deaths and launched his “Don’t Litter Campaign” in 2008.
Soon thereafter, he was the youngest recipient ever to receive the 2008 Abu Dhabi Award from His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. “I made a promise to His Highness that I will not stop until the camels stop dying,” Oliver wrote on his website.
In 2009, Oliver’s campaign was recognized by the Action for Nature based in San Francisco and was awarded 1st place, but he told Gulf News that he can no longer sustain his campaign with his pocket money and support from his parents.
Lend a hand
According to the paper, “his campaign is in desperate need of sponsorship and support to help him reach his goal of reducing waste plastic bags and littering in the UAE.”
If you are as impressed as we are by Cameron Oliver’s devotion to saving camels and would like to reach out and help him continue his work to raise awareness of plastic waste in the desert, please visit his website cameronscamelcampaign.com.
:: Gulf News
all images via Cameron Oliver