Across Africa large and small wildlife conservation projects abound. Some highly effective ones are the smaller grassroots operations.
The first quarter of 2017 is rushing on by. We’re fortunate to visit some incredible wildlife conservation projects during our travels in Africa. Since October 2016 we’ve been on the road, from South Africa, through Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and into Kenya. I believe we’ve met some of the best rescue/rehabbers and wildlife protectors there are.
Here are the top five wildlife conservation projects to watch in 2017
The wildlife conservation projects we target are not the big ones. We focus on the lesser known projects doing good on the ground and in the trenches. We’ve discovered that effective wildlife conservation projects have several things in common. The most import one being the individual(s) at the helm.
The wildlife conservation projects we see making a difference this year are those run by a special breed of people. People who have heart, vision, determination, grit and courage. People who don’t know what ‘give up’ or ‘it can’t be done’ mean. People who get back up every time they’re knocked down. People who are willing to go against the norm. People who are willing to stand alone. People who stay focused on why they’re doing what they’re doing… namely saving wildlife.
Baye Pigors with Free to be Wild
Baye is in her twenties. Yes, young and tenacious. Every time I communicate with Baye she has completed another goal she set herself or climbed another hurdle dropped in her path. Baye saves wildlife large and small. Baye’s Free to be Wild center is the only one of its kind in southern Zimbabwe. It all began about three years ago when a tiny orphaned baboon was brought to her. Changing her life’s direction she set out to give this baboon a chance. Since then she has rescued, rehabilitated and released: Zebra, serval cats, vervet monkeys, baboons, warthog, bush babies, owls, hedgehogs and even bull frogs. She’s even helped in the rescue of elephant and pangolin. There’s no bird or animal she’ll turn away. If she doesn’t know how to help she reaches out to those who do. Her center has become the place to bring an injured, abused, or orphaned critters by government and the public alike.
Why watch Baye? This year she launched her volunteer/intern program and we’re excited to see how this expands her reach to save more wildlife.
Silke Von Eynern with Bambelela
Silke has perfected the rehabilitation process for vervet monkeys. Over the past years Silke and her team at Bambelela have given hundreds of monkeys, making up around 15 troops, a second chance at living free. Each year about 30 orphans arrive at the center. Numerous ex-pets join the newbies every year as well. Silke has developed a proven rehabilitation process that takes about three years. However, despite the methodical process Silke is skillfully innovative. She steps outside the norm and, for example, carefully introduces handicapped monkeys into a troop, or finds just the right adult female to adopt a brand new orphan to bypass the long rehab process for the baby. Silke is tenacity personified. She constantly deals with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Saving a badly injured or sick vervet. Finding adequate and safe release sites. Sorting through the miles of red tape for permits and such.
Why watch Silke? Because each of us, rescue/rehabbers or ordinary folk, can learn much from her quiet grit and endurance to succeed in giving yet another troop of monkeys a second chance.
Moses Arineitwe with Nyamirambi-Rugando Conservation and Development
Moses is another one of those unique get-things-done kind of people. We’ve been connected on Facebook for a few years. However, it wasn’t until a few months ago that we actually met Moses, until we actually got an appreciation for the impact this one man has in his area. Moses, a former ranger, reforms poachers. Not sure what magic he uses, but poachers hand over their spears and snares. Moses gives them an alternative. He shows them how to become bee keepers and Talapia farmers. And most recently how to raise chickens. Moses lives in a small village north of the Bwindi National Forest, in southern Uganda. In his quiet way he goes about empowering his people, saving wildlife and the environment.
Why watch Moses? We’ve never met anyone who can do so much with so little. It will be fascinating to see what he accomplishes this year to save wildlife.
Lynn Clifford with the Wildlife Action Group
Lynn is one of the most fearless women I know. The day we met her in Lilongwe, Malawi she was recovering from a gyrocopter accident. Lynn and her team with the Wildlife Action Group are about preserving one of Malawi’s last remaining forests. These forests are home once again to elephants, buffalo and other wildlife. Before Lynn’s arrival poaching of wood (for charcoal) and elephants (for ivory) was running rampant. Today Lynn’s team of ranger scouts are keeping the poachers at bay. Educating the local communities and working together with law enforcement. Lynn personally gets involved to assure poachers are justly dealt with and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Why watch Lynn? With the elephant population growing and more poachers being apprehended, this year should see good progress if funding allows the addition of needed ranger scouts.
Marnus Roodbol with Walking for Lions
Marnus gives it all to lions. When we first met Marnus two years ago he was living very simply in the bush saving lions. Addressing human wildlife conflict is no easy task. It has no simple solutions. To really understand a community Marnus lives among the people. He seeks to understand the needs of the farmers, the politicians, the community and of course the lions. With his holistic approach he learns about human and lion behavior. With this understanding he is able to propose solutions. For three years in Botswana he saved lions with an innovative system of lights and sirens.
Why watch Marnus? This year Marnus is expanding his reach and using everything he has learned to save more lions. (More exciting information coming soon.)
It is truly our privilege to be associated with these fine individuals and do all we can, with your help, to support their wildlife conservation projects.
Helping is easy.
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