The next generation for African Wildlife Conservation are getting ready if not taking over as we speak.
During our first Africa Wildlife Conservation tour in 2010 we were both amazed and concerned. Amazed by the caliber of people involved in saving and protecting Africa’s wild animals and birds. Concerned that many were older with no one being groomed to take over.
Now six years later it’s a different story. We are finding the next generation of African wildlife conservationist. Today I want to introduce you to five very different young people going about saving wildlife in very different ways. Three I’ve met in person, while two only via the Internet.
Let me introduce you to Five Rising Stars…
Belinda, Natalie, Moji, Matt, and Baye.
Way out away from the movie theaters, bars, shopping malls and coffee shops is where we met Belinda. She works with Silke at Bambelela, a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center focused primarily on giving Vervet Monkeys a second chance at living free.
Belinda is has a quiet confidence about her as she spends time with us as we visit with baby Nikela and she shows us what’s new at Bambelela. So can someone so young enjoy living such a different life style?
Here’s what Belinda told us…
I heard about Bambelela when I was 16 years old, from a friend who worked at Bambelela for some time… He told me about raising monkeys and that I would earn a lot of money when I would work here, off course being young and not more educated I said, OK WHEN CAN I START…
So I started on the 14th of January 2009 Volunteering at Bambelela, my friend who worked here and I became a couple and off course I thought it’s my future husband, and again being young I fell deeply in love with him… it didn’t work out between us and then I realised, but I am more in love with the monkeys and they changed my life forever…..also I learned that there was no salaries paid and no money paid….I stayed on a free boarding and lodging basis.
Now almost 8 years later, working with the monkeys has taught me so much more then what I would have learned in school… I have an amazing life saving animals.
I can just see Belinda following in someone like Silke’s footsteps someday.
A year or so ago Natalie reached out interested in finding a way to collaborate as we had a common goal to help save African wildlife. Like me Natalie found the Internet an effective way to raise awareness and some funds to to help.
In Natalie’s own words…
In 2008 I traveled from my hometown in Melbourne, Australia, to spend some time connecting with nature throughout Asia. My first stop was Sri Lanka, where I worked with abused elephants in a rural community near Kegalle. It was in Sri Lanka that I first lay witness to the huge animal overpopulation problem that the country was experiencing.
I returned to Melbourne feeling determined to educate my community, and the greater international community, on the injustices that I had witnessed. That was when the idea of My Green World was born. Since then, I have traveled widely, partnering with various charities around the world in order to create a collective platform where people can work together to fight for the future of our planet.
I founded My Green World in 2013, while undertaking a Master’s degree in International Relations and Development at the University of Melbourne.
I want to create a global ecosystem where people can connect with wildlife and environmental issues and initiatives, where they can learn, feel inspired and be encouraged to make change. I want to be a leading resource for individuals and charities around the world to feel empowered to take action.
How can you not get inspired by the vision and work done by someone so young?
“You must meet Moji,” Sheila with Dance To Be Wild insisted. Sheila has this way of insisting that… Well, just makes things happen. So Moji and I connected via Facebook and will meet up on our return to Africa.
Moji introduces himself…
I was Born in Maboloka, a village in North West province of South Africa on August 23 1983, the sixth of seven siblings. I can not talk about my love for nature without mentioning my father. He took me to the bush when I was as young as just 2 yrs old, taught me the relationship of man, insect, plant, lizard, animal and bird. He taught me tracking, reading the wind, appreciating and respecting nature.
Right now I work at an egg factory doing wildlife conservation work on the side.
In 2009 I saw a picture on FB of a poached rhino with blood everywhere and a baby standing next to the carcass. I immediately felt it had gone too far, I wanted to act! I joined groups and fought for the voiceless.
I participated in my first march outside the Chinese embassy. Since then I’ve planted crosses for the poached rhinos, had an information stall at the KKNK for six days. I go to schools, speak on the radio and join marches and protest walks whenever I can.
I started making coloring books for children and give all the copes away for free. Now I finished writing -Tales From The Diary Of The Village Rhino Whisperer and am in search of a publisher.
Now doesn’t Moji just sound like a rising star for African wildlife conservation? I look so forward to meeting him in person and maybe we can just help him find that publisher.
Being a research student from the UK working with Marnus with Walking For Lions we spent some time with him during our visit to the project last year.
Here’s how a young man from England fell in love with Africa’s wildlife…
When I was 7 years old my sister, a couple of friends and I made a group called the Animal Army. We made posters protesting animal cruelty and the use of fur for clothes. We never actually hung the posters anywhere, but the passion was there.
It wasn’t until I was 19 that I first visited Africa and a whole new love developed. It was 2010 and I had the chance to travel with my friend’s family to South Africa for the World Cup. The tournament was a miserable one for the England team, but my spirits were high, for I was in paradise!
For me at that time working in conservation was only something people on television did, it could never be a realistic career for myself. Instead I was preparing to undertake my degree in computer science and mathematics
Although I enjoyed my degree, those three years were a constant headache trying to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It was there I realised that the skill set I possessed could actually be really useful in conservation research, especially my knowledge of statistics. So I applied to do a master’s degree in biology.
I then completed my masters and once again I was applying for work again, only this time with much more enthusiasm.What first attracted me to Walking for Lions was the urgency of the situation being dealt with and the direct benefits to conservation.
If only there were more young people like Matthew!
“Can you help…” Baye asked reaching out for assistance during a brief crisis period in early 2015. After numerous email exchanges her tenacity was apparent and we decided to help.
A bit about Baye…
I am writing on behalf of the Free to be Wild Trust in Zimbabwe. We are a wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and wherever possible a release centre who are not open to the public. We focus on the lesser known species as well as specializing in Primate rehabilitation. We are the first primate sanctuary of this kind in Zimbabwe.
I feel that it is extremely important to work together with as many organizations as possible, we are not experts in every field and we can only try our best, we try to collaborate with other organizations on cases that will benefit the animals we rescue…
By far the best way to get to know Baye is by watching this video from our last visit with her at Free To Be Wild.