THE ORIGIN OF ECOLIFE
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR WILLIAM TOONE
ECOLIFE’s founding trustee and renowned conservation biologist, Executive Director William Toone, has been a successful spokesperson for endangered birds, insects, plants and mammals for nearly 40 years.
Bill has explored some of the most remote regions of the world, carrying out his conservation efforts. From Honduras and Paraguay, to Cameroon and Papua New Guinea, he’s witnessed incredible wildlife spectacles, but also came into close contact with some of the poorest, and most poorly understood, populations of people.
A SIGNIFICANT TURN
While working in Madagascar to help establish a national park, Bill’s life took a significant turn while living in the remote village of Antanambao. His integration into the small village was facilitated by his befriending a little five-year-old named Elian; it was a relationship so deep that when it came time for Bill to return home, the boy’s family gave Elian to Bill to help him gain a better future in the United States – an entreaty which, for several reasons, was impossible for Bill to fulfill.
Soon after, both Antanambao, and many of those who lived there, were swept away by the historic Cyclone Hudah in the year 2000. Cyclone Hudah, combined with poor soil management, resulted in the deaths of many people—some of them Bill’s friends.
Bill’s pleas for help were uniformly rejected by conservation organizations. Helping people was not a part of their missions. At that moment, he realized that no conservation effort ever really recognized the fact that humans and their environments are inextricably joined and that one cannot work to save endangered species, or endangered places, without working as well to protect and improve the lives of the people who live near them.
FOUNDING OF ECOLIFE CONSERVATION
With this experience compelling him, Bill founded ECOLIFE Conservation, an organization dedicated to a world in which humans and nature live harmoniously. Established in 2003, ECOLIFE was created to help fill this important gap by using conservation as a tool—not only to protect our remarkable natural world—but also to protect and improve human lives.