It’s no secret. African animals are in trouble. Giraffe populations shrunk by 40% over the past decade. Lions have gone from 450,000 to less than 20,000 in my lifetime! The statistics for most endangered species and others are horrible. The big question is…
Can ordinary people protect wild animals in Africa and make a difference?
Absolutely, here is what we’ve found.
Five Top Ways People Protect Wild Animals in Africa
As a ‘know it all’ engineer, I thought, “How hard can it be to protect wild animals in Africa? We’ll just get people together and work things out.” Looking back it was like saying, “Just get rid of all atomic weapons!” How hard can that be?
Believe me, getting people to pull together is almost impossible. You guessed it, too many competing objectives from too many sides; illegal trade syndicates, governments, business, cultures, and yes the conservationists themselves. Definitely too tough a climb especially for people like us.
Fortunately, the light came on for us after a few years of traveling Africa in our old Land Rover. By visiting hundreds of wildlife people, Margrit and I discovered how regular people from around the world can protect wild animals in Africa.
Simply put? Help the little people on the front lines protecting one wild animal at a time. But where do you start. Which people and which ways help the best?
Well, in our humble opinion here are…
The Five Top Ways to Protect Wild Animals in Africa
The most effective projects are led by deeply involved people, caring directly for their animals. Because most are small they deal with huge obstacles, little funding, and minimal help. Yet each protects 10’s to 100’s of animals each year.
Their focus is always to give every animal the chance to live as free and wild as possible. Now you know why we consider them Heroes. [Watch the video]
It’s also interesting how the best projects fall into 5 major categories:
Human Wildlife Conflict, Anti-Poaching, Rescue Rehab & Release, Forever Sanctuaries. And by the way, are there enough of these precious souls to make a difference? That’s the concern of number five.
The Big Challenge
As you can imagine, when humans and wildlife live close together clashes occur. Elephants trample corn fields. Lions kill cattle. Cheetah steal goats and so on. Of course farmers and herders get mad and most resort to snaring, shooting or poisoning the “offenders”. Unfortunately, humans are encroaching more and more into wild places. Too many of these animals are losing their natural prey, their habitat, and their lives.
Amazingly, there are real Wildlife Heroes out there negotiating these conflicts. Really! I didn’t believe it myself. Proper partnering with farmers and villagers is the best solution. The key? Persuade them how precious and important the animals are while providing simple alternatives to get along with their wildlife. Projects like raising guard dogs with goat herds to keep cheetah at bay, lights and sirens to keep lions away from cattle kraals, replacing precious food when trampled, etc.
Want to meet a real Human Wildlife Conflict Hero?
Philipo is a warrior for Lions. You see, Lions prefer easy prey like slow cows. The Tanzania Lion Illumination Project helps farmers protect their cattle without killing Lions. With his help the lion corridors through farmland in Tanzania are much safer. See Video: Morning with a Massai Warrior Helping Farmers and Lions Get Along.
It is easy and affordable for you to help
Suddenly your Small Gift keeps a farmer from killing lions. Or protects rhino or monkeys or elephants or even hedgehogs or bush babies or… The point is, there are other real heroes like Philipo to choose from. All will protect more animals with your monthly donations.
Because 0% of you moneys go to travel, admin, fancy office, or munchies. The rest (100%) goes directly to saving animal’s lives. If your curious, here’s a link to some of our favorite heroes from all 5 categories. You can even choose to help one if you’d like, imagine that. Click Here Discover Current Heroes
Sadly, did you know?
Poaching for commercial bush meat and illegal trafficking of wild animal and bird parts has become a multi billion dollar industry. Surprisingly it ranks right up there with illegal gun, drug, and human trafficking. The unfortunate result? Obvious right? Wild animals in Africa are being systematically wiped out. Syndicates, government corruption, expanding world middle class “need”, huge strains on natural resources, rampant commercialism growth… Wildlife are the innocent casualties.
Permanent solutions must be found in the hands of governments and the powers to be. But, offering protection on the ground is the job of the anti-poaching ranger and others. Men and women became conservationists and rangers to manage and study wildlife. Now they are soldiers in a crazy war to protect the wild animals they love. Still other heroes are not shooting and jailing but marching to reform poachers with persuasion and providing real alternatives.
Crazy, right? But many make it work beautifully!
Want to meet two anti-poaching heroes?
Felix is an Anti-poaching Ranger Scout in the Thuma Forest, Malawi. The poorest country in the world. He now has a job protecting the forest, Elephants (over 140 of them), and other animals. Together with funds like yours we pay his wages. Would you like to read his amazing Christmas Letter? to us? What surprised us most was how much his small salary helps his family. He also loves protecting the forest and the elephants. If you’d like you could help us support a new Ranger Scout this year.
Or meet Moses, a persuasive poacher reformer. He helps them love wildlife and become bee keepers and Talapia fish farmers. He also gets in the middle of many battles to save animals. Just yesterday he was on the radio pleading with farmers to not shoot the elephants trampling their corn fields. Last month he rescued another highly endangered pangolin. Care to help Moses?
Anti-poaching funds are mostly about manpower
Ordinary people like you and I are not putting much of a dent into the illegal trade. But more funds mean more Rangers. More persuaders to put their lives on the line protecting individual animals and herds. You can help get more boots on the ground to “interact” with poachers.
Again, if your curious, here’s a link to some of our favorite heroes. Get to know how each saves and protects wild animals in Africa. Please choose to help one if you’d like. Click Here Discover Current Heroes
#3 Rescue, Rehab & Release
Because of the human wildlife conflict and poaching scourges, animals and birds are injured or orphaned. We humans also contribute in many other lovely ways. Power lines are good at frying birds and climbing animals. Roadways are littered with road kill and dead scavengers. Electrical Windmill farms are devastating to large birds like vultures and other raptors.
Thanks to rehabilitation heroes many victims of inhumane acts, accidents, and illness are saved. If possible the injured are nursed to a full recovery and released back into a safe wild place. The orphans are raised and nurtured to be introduced to a new troop or herd which take many years.
Rescue, rehab, and release is an artful process requiring skill as well as following protocol. Trusting their intuition is a must. We’ve found the most successful are the heroes with the biggest hearts.
Want to meet some rehab heroes?
Here’s a good example. Silke takes in 30 to 40 orphaned monkeys each year; mostly newborns and some ex-pets. At the moment she has over 400 monkeys in troops of various stages of development. And no joke, she has released 16 full troops back to the wild so far. Incredibly, over 500 monkeys live free again. It was nice to fund two orphan rescues, 1 1/2 troop releases and help build the new orphan triage/nursery… so far.
Could you be a mom to an orphaned Rhino? Natalie raises orphan Rhino. Why? Because their mothers were shot for their horns. Sadly it takes weeks for the trauma to subside. Slowly the little rhino begins to trust the creatures who brutally killed their mom. Natalie has raised 5 orphans to three years of age. Nikela funds helped release them to a semi wild compound. Unfortunately heavily guarded from poachers. Ready to help Natalie rescue and protect the orphaned rhino?
Shannon’s saving a rare bird species. A Bearded Vulture recovered from a Sangoma (witch doctor) began a mission to rescue an endangered vulture species in the Drakensburg Mountains in South Africa. A huge challenge, this unique breading program requires helicopters provided by the SA military to harvest eggs from high altitudes during a narrow winter time window. New chicks are fed with a puppet mom to minimize human imprinting. Care to help Shannon save a species?
It all started with a promise to an orphaned baboon. “He would be free to be wild again.” But now, Baye works with them all; from Hedgehogs to Pangolin, Zebra to Warthogs, and Serval Cats to tiny Bush Babies. It’s impressive how this young lady built an effective RRR center in such a short time… in Zimbabwe? Need I say more? Let’s help Baye.
Supporting ‘Rescue Rehab Release’ means a long term commitment
Most of the people we meet in this category are very happy but very tired. It’s the long hours and the worry of having enough resources to keep their many animals progressing long term.
Much good is done by ordinary people like you to assist folks like Silke, Natalie, Shannon, and Baye. Monthly donations help with medical costs, food, enclosures and other supplies needed to give a wild animal or bird the second chance at living wild.
Curious yet? Remember, you will only help those we trust to save real animals on the front lines with 100% of your gift. Have a quick look at our heroes and their work. Click Here Discover Current Heroes
#4 Forever Sanctuaries
Unfortunately, not all can be released.
Even though many scarred or damaged animals can be wild again. Some illnesses or injuries heal incompletely or improperly making survival difficult. Also, some birds or animals are too imprinted with no fear of people. If released they can become a problem. How about a lion on your front porch? Regrettably, most will certainly be abused or killed.
A forever home must be found for the non-releasable or they will be destroyed. Best is if they are not just taken care of but live as close to nature as possible. Sanctuaries may not be an ideal wild home. Yet, these animals and birds live out their lives peacefully.
Many even become ambassadors for their species. The public can experience them, watch them ‘fly’ and learn so much from their handlers. They become crucial educators bringing awareness, understanding and the ‘awe factor’ that no book or video can touch. Most heroes have small sanctuaries for those they can’t release.
Meet Our Favorite Sanctuary Hero
Every morning at the African Raptor Center Shannon work’s her magic. Above majestic wild hills she flys falcons, hawks, kites, and even owls and eagles to thrill the public. Her talents are not just with raptors, however. Skillfully she persuades all that life is worth living for us and the wildlife. All the ambassadors in the show and sanctuary are non-releasable rescues. Side note: Shannon’s show is what started us on our wildlife journey. Care to help Shannon save more birds?
Sanctuaries mainly need funds for food, caretakers, and medical expenses
Again, ordinary people from anywhere in the world can help support the work of these wonderful people via much needed monthly donations. Here’s the link again to some of our favorite heroes from all 5 categories. Learn how you can help. Click Here Discover Current Heroes
#5 The Next Generation
Not enough people in the wings
Simple but true. Not enough to do the heavy lifting for wildlife in the future. Unfortunately, with the present selfish focus on money, fewer are heading for key positions to do the right things for wildlife. To be honest, so many of the people we meet saving wildlife are older white people. Please don’t take offense but do you see the problem? As they retire, these wonderful people are not being replaced quickly enough.
With the shift to African rule, we see more opportunity and need for local people to be involved. That said, we are very encouraged with some amazing young people finding their Wildlife passion. What if someone reached out to more young people to help reinforce their priorities and attitudes?
So, let’s get kids in front of wildlife and reward any passion we see. Guess what, it’s also easy to help high potential wildlife people with College or training. Tuition is less than $4000/year. Impossible for most.
Imagine many more people following their passions, making big decisions for Wildlife, and saving more animals on a small and grand scale. What a great return on your investment.
Want to meet some Future Heroes
It just makes sense to influence young Africans to nurture their passion for wildlife. Like assisting Daniel a Kenyan Wildlife Masters Student with a key project, helping Sheila with her young Wildlife Ambassadors Group, sponsoring Thoko’s High School Environmental Club’s visits to African Raptor Center and rewarding Khumbalane’s sacrifice to help Baye build Free to be Wild.
Helping these folks is a bit different
We have people in the wings or if you could suggest someone. But we help on a case by case basis. If you would like to help in this way Click Here and let’s make a plan!
Join us and save wildlife
It didn’t get us anywhere to be frustrated with the huge problems facing wildlife. So we decided to help people actually saving one critter at a time. We could do that. Our involvement has grown to traveling Africa six to eight months each year camping in our old Land Rover looking for and helping people saving wildlife.
We are constantly discovering passionate qualified people. Wouldn’t it be great to help them all in a bigger way?
Bottom Line; Nikela only helps those we trust to save real animals on the front lines with 100% of your gift. A little money from a lot of people adds up to many more animals saved. Thankfully, Nikela is expanding. Now anyone anywhere can help.
I know, I know… “How can you trust you money goes directly to touch an orphaned Rhino or future decision maker?” We have to win that trust but for now understand that all of your money, that’s 100%, makes it to saving animals and not saving us. Often major donors even match to double your impact.
How do we do it? Well for starters, Nikela is an all-volunteer organization where ‘salary’ & ‘hourly’ are dirty words. Where the travel and admin expenses are covered by us. And why not, we are the lucky ones in Africa looking these marvelous People and Animals in the eye (or mouth) and living in the bush.
I know the feeling. Squeezing all your hard earned money. Not wanting someone else to waste it, right? Well if you are like me, you could spend a bit less on frivolous stuff to save some wildlife. As little as $2-$5 a week ($8-$20 a month, $100-$250 a year) is huge when added to everyone else’s support. Many are bringing a sandwich to work once a week and donating the difference. Even caring kids are involved with $7/month from their allowance.