Waris Ahluwalia

Designer and Actor

Who wants to live in a world without tigers? A world without rhinos? A world without polar bears? Not I, says the boy from New York City. Although we don’t see these creatures roaming our streets (thankfully), a world without these majestic animals would be drab. I fill my life with them—they’re on my walls, on my jewelry, on my fabrics. Not a day goes by when I don’t see their beauty. I sit at my desk flanked by three bronze deer; to my right is a landscape photograph by Andrew Zuckerman of animals at watering hole in Kenya. On my desk roam tigers, zebras, owls, elephants, giraffes, and a lone rhino. It’s a big desk.

These animals and many of the world’s most fascinating species are in danger.

Recently, fate and a jet plane took me to the bush of the Kalahari. I sat with a zebra, stared down a pride of lions, and watched a rhino mother protect her offspring. All in all, I came across thirty-seven species of wildlife. I learned that the rhino of Africa is at danger due to poachers, as is the great Bengal tiger of India, my motherland. To sit and do nothing just makes one an accomplice to extinction.

These animals and many of the world’s most fascinating species are in danger. How can that be? How can we be using images of these incredible animals in our designs, our textiles, and our décor, and at the same time allowing the possibility that the real thing may be lost forever, never to be seen by future generations? Beyond their obvious extensive use as muses, each of these species has evolved over time to play a valuable role in the ecosystem.

The good news is that I don’t have to continue on a hopeless rant forever. There is light on the horizon. The world has started to recognize its responsibilities. We have started to treat nature with care. And I believe that we’ll succeed in protecting these unbelievable creatures. I do believe that love conquers all. The Endangered Species Act translated that belief into action for a whole nation—and not just by protecting the species within the borders of the United States, but also extending that protection to hundreds of other species around the world.

The passage of the Act was an incredible first step. Decades later it is still working, and we are saving species. However, my friends, there is so much more to do. There is a Buddhist saying, “If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep walking.”


Download the entire book A Wild Success here.