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Janelle Kaczmarzewski

I don’t have an occupation in the traditional sense of the word. I volunteer my time fighting for something I believe in; combating the illegal wildlife trade. I live in Laos for 8 months out of the year implementing anti-wildlife trafficking campaigns and educational projects. During the other 4 months, such as right now, the monsoon season is raging on in SE Asia and traveling between villages becomes very difficult and school is often out of session.

It is therefore a perfect time to come back to the states and ride a motorcycle across, giving presentations about wildlife trafficking in Laos and beyond at schools and motorcycle events along the way. Many people aren’t aware that the US is the second highest consumer of illegally trafficking wildlife products (after China), and that we also bombed the hell out of Laos. Laos holds the title of being the most bombed country in the world per capita. The US dropped a planeload of bombs on Laos every 8 minutes for 9 straight years (legaciesofwar.org).

You can see how with a third of those bombs still in the ground un-exploaded like landmines (that’s over 80 million bombs) with so much land unusable for agriculture and how the US is driving the demand for the exploitation of animals (least-developed Laos is both a source and a portal for the trade)- we are playing a HUGE role in Laos’s situation.

When I first learned of the illegal wildlife trade back in University when I was studying for my Evolutionary Biology and Ecology Degree, I felt this fire inside my chest to stop these atrocities, and these passionate flames continue to burn brightly still.

I believe we are all connected to each other, to nature, and to the wild. I believe we are all truly wild.

I’ve felt inextricably connected to the animal world my whole life, but I didn’t become obsessed with motorcycles until I was a teenager. No one in my family rode, I just really loved the feeling of going FAST. I wanted to ride on the back of boys’ bikes and for them to go as fast as they could… until I no longer wanted to need them for that experience and got my own! That was over 11 years ago now.

I’ve been living on a motorcycle for over a year now, spending most of that in Laos on a Yamaha XT225 Serow. That bike would go anywhere, which was perfect for the rugged terrain.

I love the contrast to the bike I picked up this summer in Asheville, NC, a Yamaha VSTAR – crusier style. I’m definitely enjoying the smooth

American pavement on this bike i’ve been calling “the panther”. I’ve ridden over 22,000 miles in the past year.

I’m very much looking forward to my first women’s motorcycle event this weekend, the Dream Roll. I’ll be setting up a small tent to raise awareness and money for the projects in Laos. I return to Laos this November. I plan to sell my cruiser on the west coast and purchase another enduro once I get back in Asia.

I’ll be in CA the month of september, giving presentations at schools. Then in October and November I’ll have to find some seasonal work to save up enough money to go back and volunteer for ConservationLaos (Project Anoulak) in central Laos.

I suppose I’m just fusing all of my passions (wildlife, nature, motorcycles, children, adventure) and seeing how it works out. 🙂

Peace, Love, & Adventure,

Janelle

 

*** Photos by Ruslan Tumash

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