The power of hope – Transforming the world one story at a time

“When enough people come together, then change will come and we can achieve almost anything. So instead of looking for hope – start creating it” – Greta Thunberg.

In today’s world, the urgency for action is palpable. Biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution demand our attention, urging us to abandon the status quo. Yet, amidst these challenges, lies the promise of a world where both humanity and nature thrive. The solutions are within our grasp, but they require us to act now.

Communication plays a pivotal role in conservation, bridging the gap between information and action. Humans have been telling stories for as long as there’s been a language to tell them in – narratives about ourselves, the beliefs of our communities, and the information that floods our screens through social media and news outlets.

These stories hold immense power. They can make us small, scared and apathetic. Yet, they also have the power to uplift and empower us, beckoning us to envision a brighter future.

Passionate about wildlife conservation and environmental justice, Amy Bond, Chief Communications Officer of Gorilla Doctors – an organisation dedicated to saving gorillas through a One Health approach – is here to share her story.

Get ready to learn about the vital role of communication in protecting our planet through her impactful storytelling rooted in authenticity and grounded optimism. She’s here to pull back the curtain on the day-to-day of a conservation communicator and to shed light on the power of words to shape the future.

Amy Bond in the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, searching for a family of newly habituated Grauer’s gorillas. © Will Wilson for Gorilla Doctors.

“There are stories hidden in the language we use, whether we’re conscious of them or not. They tell the truth of our hearts and minds” – Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough.

“I was a storyteller first,” reminisces Amy, reflecting on her childhood love for writing and weekends spent immersed in “Power of the Pen” competitions. It was a random assignment in her middle school life science class that ignited Amy’s lifelong fascination with gorillas. “I went to the library and opened a book and saw my first black and white photo of a gorilla, and that was it. I was hooked.”

Amy didn’t yet realise that there might be a way to combine her drive for storytelling with her passion for conservation. Following her love of gorillas, she pursued a degree in biology and then a PhD focused on primate behavioural ecology and conservation.

However, she found herself becoming disillusioned by the exclusivity of academia. “How are we going to save species, save the environment if it’s only in the hands of a small group of people? We have to get everybody to care, get everybody to be invested, and the best way to do that is to tell stories.”

Determined to make a broader impact, Amy decided to leave graduate school and venture into a career on market-based approaches to solving environmental, conservation, and social challenges. Over the next 15 years, she honed her skills in PR, communication, and marketing, working with startups, major corporations, social enterprises, and non-profits.

When in 2019 Amy joined Gorilla Doctors to head their communications strategy, her diverse background equipped her with a fresh perspective on conservation communications. She explains, “I took a long winding road, and from each experience, I picked up a collection of skills. I learned by doing. I’ve always had this belief that people want to do good, they want to have the tools to make better choices and invest their energy in things that matter. So, my career has been about giving people the information to be able to make those choices.”

“Somewhere inside of all of us is the power to change the world” – Roald Dahl.

From her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Amy leads Gorilla Doctors’ communication strategies with passion and dedication. “What I do on a day-to-day basis isn’t particularly glamorous,” she admits, “I focus on the strategy and implementation for our overall messaging, branding, and storytelling to the external world. This includes managing blogs, newsletters, social media, print materials, PowerPoint presentations, interviews, and working with the media.”

Amy acknowledges that the many miles separating her from the rest of the Gorilla Doctors’ team based mostly in Rwanda, Uganda, and Congo, can be a bit of a struggle. “My day-to-day is sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Sometimes I can feel very disconnected from the work on the ground.”

Nevertheless, Amy’s unwavering passion for Gorilla Doctors’ mission and the inspiration she draws from her remarkable colleagues keep her motivated. “I am deeply passionate about the mission and what Gorilla Doctors are doing. I believe in the story that I’m telling.”

Dr. Eddy Kambale Syaluha, head veterinarian DR Congo, and team rescue infant mountain gorilla from a snare. Virunga National Park, DR Congo. © Gorilla Doctors.

As a conservation communicator, Amy faces the daunting task of trying to break through the noise in today’s information-saturated world. The rise of social media has fundamentally changed the way we consume information. “I sometimes feel like social media is like trying to shout at the moon.”

Amy also grapples with the limitations and pitfalls of social media activism, “It can give people a false sense of activism. Liking or commenting on a post is not action. It’s engagement. It’s awareness, but it’s not activism. And I think it can lead to complacency in a way.”

Despite these frustrations, Amy remains steadfast in her commitment to driving meaningful change through her communication work. “I think the responsibility is still on us to flip that switch. To get people beyond that.”

“The greatest danger to our future is apathy” – Jane Goodall.

In the face of daunting environmental challenges, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or powerless.

As Amy reflects, “We are in pretty dire straits. It’s serious and it’s real, but it’s not hopeless. There’s a tendency in storytelling in the media for a very doom-and-gloom narrative. Studies show that it doesn’t actually inspire action, it inspires apathy. What we need now, more than ever, is for people to take action.”

Research confirms that messages of hope have the power to inspire, to empower, and to mobilize. Hope serves as the bridge between grief and action, showing us that it could be different and igniting within us the agency to effect change.

In conservation, marketing and branding have historically been viewed with scepticism. However, they have the potential to be powerful tools for good. What would the world look like if ‘Just Do It’ were a slogan for climate action instead of running shoes?

While advocating optimism, Amy is clear that “the most important responsibility is truth at all times.” Authenticity not only builds trust but also serves as the cornerstone of a successful communication strategy. In an era craving sincerity, authenticity resonates deeply. “The truth sounds different and people are looking for that.”

Silverback mountain gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. © Gorilla Doctors.

“What we imagine and implement today will ripple through time, telling the coming generations exactly who we chose to be when it mattered most” Kirsten Gilardi, Gorilla Doctors.

Amidst discussions of negative tipping points and environmental collapse, it is important to remember that positive tipping also exists. There is critical momentum gathering around collective awareness and action that can turn the tide.

So, the next time you feel compelled to look away from the bad news, from the story that seems hopeless, remember that action takes many forms. It could be a conversation with a neighbour or the decision to buy a different brand of coffee. Mindfully learning about a problem or giving space to our grief and our rage is ACTION.

Change must happen internally first. Only once we have become braver, more informed, more compassionate versions of ourselves, can we truly go out and change the world.

For Amy, the path to meaningful change lies in reaching a wider audience and engaging individuals from all walks of life in the conservation movement. “Every person possesses something invaluable, something only they can offer. A unique reason why they are on this earth. And the planet, animals, ecosystems, oceans…we need every single mind, heart, and soul that can show up.”

Keep the momentum and act for nature!

If you want to learn more about the power of positivity and hope in conservation check out Conservation Optimism or Jane Goodall’s The Book of Hope.

To learn more about the amazing work of Gorilla Doctors check out their blog, sign up for their newsletter or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.  Inspired to help the cause? Discover the ways to give to support Gorilla Doctors.

To find out more about a career in conservation communications, check out our Conservation Communicator role profile, take a look at the Conservation Careers Careers Advice blog or explore the job board.


Author Profile | Emily Fyfe

Since completing her veterinary degree from the University of California Davis in 2013, Emily has spent the last 10 years dedicated to the health and welfare of domestic animals and wildlife. Fueled by her passion for nature, she is transitioning into a career in wildlife conservation to help protect biodiversity and life on this planet. As part of this career journey, she has recently begun an MSc. in Conservation Medicine through the University of Edinburgh, has joined the UNEP Great Ape Survival Partnership as an intern, and is working on a study with the Office de Biodiversité Francais to investigate the emergence of distemper in wildlife in France. Emily is particularly interested in a One Health approach to conservation, conservation medicine and community-based conservation work.

Connect with Emily on LinkedIn.


Featured image: Infant mountain gorilla, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. © Gorilla Doctors.


Interviews, Communicator