It’s Nikela’s 11th anniversary! What a ride it’s been! It’s amazing to look back at how one crucial encounter triggered it all. This one experience catapulted two ordinary people, like Russ and I, to start a nonprofit charity to help people saving wildlife. Although Nikela has remained small and volunteer run we’ve distributed over $85,000 to 24 projects in eight African countries.
How it all started… with a bird?
In early 2009 Russ, and I visited the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary close to where my parents lived, in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. This sanctuary cares for falcons, hawks, kites, eagles, owls, and vultures who are largely the victims of injuries, poisoning or illegal possession. A select few of those that cannot be returned to the wild become ambassador birds.
It was on one of those typical sunny African afternoons that somehow during Shannon Hoffman’s’ flight show we were changed. Was it the owl that I felt more than saw fly silently over my head? Was it YBK, the kite, dancing in the breeze above us? Was it the lightning speed of the falcon swooping to grab the lure in mid air? Or was it the stories Shannon told about these birds that touched my heart? I’m not sure. I just know Russ felt it too, because on the way out he dropped his ‘in case of emergency’ $100 bill he’d carried in his wallet for years into the donation box.
On our long flight back to the U.S. I kept thinking of Shannon and the birds of prey whose numbers are dwindling and how most of us didn’t have a clue it was happening.
“Africa‘s game parks have lost well over half of their big mammals… since 1970” REUTERS
“Another rhino found dead… poaching is on the rise.” News24
News flashes like this troubled and overwhelmed me.
Can you believe it? When I was born (back in the 1950’s) there were over 450,000 lions roaming the African continent? Now there are less than 20,000 and declining rapidly.
What could the two of us do? The situation seemed so bleak!
Just jump in and do it!
It was Russ who finally triggered the action. In March 2010 he looked at me with those clear blue eyes and said, “We just need to jump in and figure it out as we go.” And with that an incredible journey began.
- The right people started showing up to create this global community of people who care.
- We went to South Africa for 34 days putting 4,560 miles on a rental car and discovered the struggle of the few aging dedicated experts to protect the endangered animals.
- An inspired process emerged.
- It seemed like everything was perfect! Well of course it wasn’t.
However, over the years, with your help we have been making a difference to save endangered, threatened and just ordinary common wild animal species.
Helping is super easy…
100% of your charitable donation goes to help.
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Nikela is a fundraising nonprofit on a mission to help people protecting nature, especially doing wildlife conservation.