Rens Ilgen

Ever since I was a child, I have been amazed by the beauty of the natural world. My grandparents had a huge animal book collection, which I was always browsing through when I was there. I still remember how every chapter on a species ended with the threats it is facing. And how I was frustrated by the way we exploit our natural riches.

Fast forward ten years or so, I applied to study Biology. I focused my courses and research on ecology, and became even more inspired by the beauty and complexity of the natural world. However, what struck me was that even with all this scientific evidence underlining the dependence of our own future on a healthy environment, we don’t act upon that knowledge. I concluded that conservation is a social problem.

After my studies it was time to learn more about the world, and for over a year I was venturing into the places I have always been dreaming about. Yet the reality was always different. Marginalized, empty forests, deprived local communities, pollution up until the remotest islands and all under the immense pressure of just a few greedy fingers. Exploitation and corruption turned out to be best buddies wherever I went, and I decided to fight!

In Congo, as a volunteer for a sniffer dog program aiming to tackle the transport of illegal wildlife products, I found my way into EAGLE, where I since have felt perfectly at home fighting for law enforcement in wildlife crime.