10-year-old Kate Gilman Williams has already written a book. She was inspired after going on an African safari and learning about how humans are the biggest threat to animals.
“When I went on safari in Africa, my game driver Michelle taught me so much,” Kate said. “She taught me about the damage a snare can cause and what human-wildlife conflict is—it was hard for me to believe that a human would kill an animal for its horn, tusk or scales.”
When Kate came home from her trip, the facts she learned about the human danger to animals bothered her. She asked Michelle if she would co-write a book with her to tell kids Kate’s age all that she’d learned on safari.
“We wanted kids and teens to feel like they were on a safari,” Kate said. “So I wrote about my memories and Michelle echoed them with conservation facts.”
The two emailed constantly between Austin, TX (Kate’s hometown) and Africa. It took a long time, Kate said, but they eventually had a solid draft they were proud of.
Their book, Let’s Go on Safari, was published in the spring of 2019. Today, all sales from their book support The Jane Goodall Institute, The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and Global Wildlife Conservation. Kate and Michelle’s book can be found on Amazon here.
Kate feels that it is important to be an animal advocate since they do not have voices. “My focus is inspiring kids my age to understand that we really can make a difference,” she said. “For example, my entire school brought in quarters, and in one week we raised over $4,000 to help koalas after fires broke out in Australia.”
Kate shared some sad truths with me. If her generation does not take action, many species will go extinct in her lifetime. “Every 15 minutes an elephant is killed, every eight hours a rhino is poached and less than 7,000 cheetahs remain in the wild,” she said. “Time is running out.”
After spending time with elephants at The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kate learned an orphaned elephant is milk-dependent for years. She also was surprised to learn the keepers at the organization sleep with the elephant babies in their stalls.
“The age progression of an elephant is similar to our own,” Kate said. “It can take up to 10 years before they’re ready to transition back into the wild.” She has watched the process and finds it “amazing” to follow an orphaned baby elephant on his or her journey to be wild again.
A 2020 honoree by the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, which honors 25 outstanding young leaders each year who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment, Kate has no plans of slowing down.
In addition to everything else, Kate has worked with the Care for Wild Rhinos Sanctuary. She learned that orphaned rhinos have to learn to trust humans, who are usually the very reason they lost their mother. “Also, baby rhinos get so excited for their milk bottles that they squeak when they slurp!” Kate added.
Throughout her work saving animals, Kate has had the opportunity to meet some interesting celebrities, including attending a taping of the Will & Grace reboot. Debra Messing, who played Grace, endorsed Kate’s book.
“The fact that Miss Debra agreed to endorse my book proves that adult advocates truly understand that my generation has to step up before it’s too late,” Kate said. “Debra really loves elephants and has used her platform for years to help their rescue, rehabilitation and release efforts on a global scale.”
Kate sees technology as the key to saving species in the future. According to her, with cutting edge technology, a poacher can be identified before a snare is set or shot is fired. Kate is working on a project to bring technology to kids now because by the time she gets to college, it will be too late.
Speaking of college, she’s not exactly sure what she wants to study yet but Kate does believe that no matter what she ends up doing for her career, she will always be an animal advocate.
Kate is currently a fifth grader at Trinity Episcopal School in Austin, TX. She’s looking forward to getting vaccinated so she can go back to activities she loves like volleyball and acting. Right now, she enjoys history and science and hanging out with her “giant fluffy dog” named Boomer, a Great Pyrenees. She also has three foster elephants through The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.