Thanks to my sister Michelle McIlroy for designing the logo!


Ever since I was a child, I have been very interested in nature and the environment. I have a B.S. degree in wildlife biology, and have worked as a zookeeper, wildlife biologist, and ecologist. I am conducting a brief survey of world leaders, government officials, religious leaders, corporate CEOs, environmental groups, wildlife experts, and others regarding nature and the environment. I am also very interested in religious views, customs, and beliefs from around the world, and the interactions between religion, culture, society, and the environment. This is something I am doing out of personal interest, and is not connected to any group or organization. I have been working on this project since the summer of 2006, and hope to eventually turn it into a book and/or documentary. I am hoping to make this into a global project, with responses from all segments of society. Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or comments. If you have not already done so, I hope that you will consider taking part in my project, and please spread the word to anyone you think might be interested! Thanks for stopping by!


November 18, 2006

Manisha Gutman

The views expressed here are purely personal and should not be taken to be the views of Kalpavriksh.

Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group

Today's Date: 18 Nov 2006

1. What interaction with an animal and/or nature in your life has had the biggest impact on you?

When I first started exploring issues of the environment I was living in a spiritual community near a big city in India. Periodically I would have to travel into town for work. On the route to the city, there was an area where a road was being widened. Flanking the road were two huge and majestic trees that may have been a couple of hundred years old. I soon realised that eventually they were going to be sacrificed for the sake of a few extra meters of road. Everytime I went into town I looked out for them and began to develop a love for them. One day after a long day in the city, I was returning back to the community, and saw that the deed had been done. The large tree lay cut in pieces by the side of the road. It was almost as though a dear friend of mine had been massacred heartlessly. What was worse was that the reason seemed so absolutely meaningless - those few extra meters were not really needed on a road that did not have much traffic in the first place.

I reached home and must have cried for nearly an hour - deeply moved by the helplessness of the tree and the stupidity of humanity!

This episode was a turning point for me. Although I had already read a lot of books and understood the logic behind the environmental movement - this event was a heart connection to nature. After this I found myself speaking to trees, nurturing plants and animals spontaneously.

2. Did you have a favorite place in the great outdoors during your childhood?

Not really. I grew up in a big city and our contact with nature was limited. The only real natural element near us was the sea and even though we visited it often it was really more of a leisure activity than anything else. However, in the spiritual community I lived in, Nature was deeply respected, almost worshipped. My teacher was an avid lover of nature and the environment of the community was lush and energised.

Now? I don’t really have any one favourite place yet I love being in nature.

3. As a former zookeeper, I would love to know what your favorite animal is, and why?

I would say that I have several favourite animals. The Indian cow to me is the epitome of elegance, grace and beauty. The elephant I love because of the gentleness that emanates from it. However I have never really had the chance to know either of these intimately. In the past few years I have had several dogs and cats in my life and I am grateful to them because they have taught me how to love. I have often experienced a psychic connection with the cats in my life - telepathic communications and uncanny coincidences. The cat has taught me that it is indeed possible for humans to communicate with other species as clearly as they do with each other. The dogs I have known on the other hand have been generous with their affection and joy.

4. What do you think is the greatest environmental challenge facing us now, and what do you think will be the greatest challenge in the future?

I feel that the inner disconnect between humans and nature is the source of all current environmental challenges. This could possible be because most of us are also disconnected from our own inner selves, unable to control our thoughts and emotions, making choices out of fear and discontentment.

5. If you could give everyone one piece of advice regarding the environment and our natural resources, what would it be?

My advice to folks would be to learn to love nature. To keenly observe her and relish the beauty and grace of all things natural. Once peoples hearts have opened to the immense beauty and compassion that nature embodies, conservation will become a priority for them in their own personal lives but also in the choices they make as professionals, government officials or corporate executives. The links between conservation and human survival will become clear - because even though these issues seem complex and entangled - they really stem from a simple truth - that we do not love nature anymore.