The Conservation Travel Foundation was founded in 2006 by Tristan Cowley, later also a co-founder of Ultimate Safaris. From the onset, the objective of the Foundation was to partner with Conservation Travel to bring about tangible, positive impacts on ecosystem conservation and on the socio-economic development of rural communities in Namibia.
The early efforts of the Foundation raised a mere few hundred dollars a year. It now raises, and deploys, in excess of US$ 250,000 a year for conservation and rural development projects in Namibia.
Innovation and determination by many remarkable people and organisations have given Namibia one of Africa’s most amazing wildlife recovery stories. Desert-adapted black rhino, elephant, lion, Hartmann’s mountain zebra and giraffe have all emerged from populations on the brink of local extinction, to roam north western Namibia in healthy, if fragile, numbers. Throughout the country populations of wildlife of every description have increased dramatically – due in no small part to the establishment of Community Conservancies on Communal Land, the advent of legal ownership of wildlife on private land, and a facilitative Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
Conservation minded travelers are already making a positive impact as they embark on their life enriching journey, just by visiting Namibia. However, the effects of this can reach even further, and much of the real impact comes from partnerships formed with like-minded individuals and entities with similar values.
Desert Lion Conservation, or the “Desert Lion Project”, as it is often referred to, is a small non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of desert – adapted lions in the Northern Namib. Our main focus is to collect important base-line ecological data on the lion population and to study their behaviour, biology and adaptation to survive in the harsh environment. We then use this information to collaborate with other conservation bodies in the quest to find a solution to human-lion conflict, to elevate the tourism value of lions, and to contribute to the conservation of the species.
Addressing the conflict between people and wildlife requires striking a balance between conservation priorities and the needs of the people who share their land with wildlife. Managing human-lion conflict in the arid environment of the Kunene Region is complex. Sporadic and variable rainfall patterns, typical of arid environments, result in large overlapping home ranges amongst the lions that often clash with local farmers in search of suitable grazing for their livestock. However, lions are important to the growing tourism industry and there is an urgent need to manage the clashes between people and lions in the region. Understanding the population demography and behaviour ecology of the lion population is essential to this process.
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International is dedicated to the conservation, protection and study of gorillas and their habitats in Africa. Their successful, integrated approach includes close collaboration with local governments and communities as well as partners from around the world
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has more than 50 years of successful conservation work in saving gorillas based on a holistic model with four key parts: direct, daily protection of gorillas; scientific research on gorillas and their ecosystems; educating the next generation of scientists and conservationists in Africa; and helping local people with basic needs, so that communities can thrive and work together
African Parks is a non-profit conservation organization that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. African Parks currently manage 19 national parks and protected areas in 11 countries covering over 14.2 million hectares in: Angola, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
The organization was founded in 2000 in response to the dramatic decline of protected areas due to poor management and lack of funding. African Parks utilizes a clear business approach to conserving Africa’s wildlife and remaining wild areas, securing vast landscapes and carrying out the necessary activities needed to protect the parks and their wildlife. African Parks maintains a strong focus on economic development and poverty alleviation of surrounding communities to ensure that each park is ecologically, socially, and financially sustainable in the long-term
The African Pangolin Working Group (APWG) was established on 27 June 2011, following an inaugural meeting by a diverse group of people who all have one passion in common – understanding and protecting pangolins in Africa
The APWG’s objectives are encompassed by its mission statement: “The African Pangolin Working Group will strive towards the conservation and protection of all four African pangolin species by generating knowledge, developing partnerships and creating public awareness and education initiatives”
The Zambezi Elephant Fund (ZEF) works collaboratively with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority, NGOs and the private sector to develop, implement and manage: anti-poaching operations, field equipment and supplies for rangers and support teams, anti-poaching ranger training, conservation security planning and implementation, information systems and networking, technology and systems for anti-poaching operations, community livelihood programs, habitat restoration initiatives, and education and awareness delivery
ZEF has, in collaboration with their partners, built an anti-poaching reaction ranger base, conducted multiple aerial surveys, supplied equipment and rations to rangers, run training programmes, held collaborative workshops, funded three deployment vehicles, a patrol boat and driver/coxswain, funded a dedicated light aircraft for Flying for Wildlife, set up a highly effective illegal wildlife crime unit with Zimbabwe Republic Police’s MFFU, and kickstarted a crucial community-based sustainable habitat programme around tree planting and innovative cookstoves
The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aims to ensure the long-term conservation and welfare of Africa’s elephants in the context of human needs and pressures through scientific research, training, community outreach, public awareness and advocacy
Amboseli was chosen because the elephants were relatively undisturbed in the sense that they were not fenced in, were still moving freely in the ecosystem, and were not being heavily poached. The Amboseli Trust for Elephants aims to gather base-line data on the biology of a “natural” population and most importantly they want to study elephants by following individuals over time. More than 40 years later, some of the same individuals are still being followed since 1972 as well as all the Amboseli elephants that have been born since the start of the Trust. Much of what is collectively known today about wild African elephants is based on these studies
Working to protect the legendary ecosystems and astounding biodiversity of East Africa through conservation efforts that directly benefit wildlife, wilderness and the local Maasai communities
The world increasingly relies on many traditional communities like the Maasai to protect the ecological treasures that exist within the land that they own. But the incredible wilderness and wildlife of Africa’s grasslands and the famous culture of the Maasai people both face daunting threats to their long-term survival. The fate of both rests with the Maasai themselves as they work to figure out how to benefit from their incredible natural resources while protecting and preserving them at the same time
The Trust funds and operates a range of programs aimed at protecting wilderness and wildlife. Our success comes from promoting sustainable economic benefits to the local Maasai community, thereby encouraging their active participation as stewards of our critical ecosystem. Lease payments for conservancies, carbon credits, wildlife monitoring and security, conservation and ecotourism employment…these are just some of the ways MWCT is creating a cutting edge model of successful community-based conservation
Project Ranger fills a critical gap in wildlife monitoring, surveying, and anti-poaching operations of existing NGO’s in Africa through an emergency fund supporting those on the front-lines of conservation. Contributions from private individuals, foundations, and corporate partners will supplement budget deficits with local ground partners by funding salaries, training, and operations of wildlife monitors, rangers and anti-poaching personnel.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s ripple effects are broad; leaving virtually no industry, economy, or continent immune. As travel and tourism has been brought to a standstill, many wilderness areas are left vacant and workers left with uncertainty of personal income. This “perfect storm” of conditions is leaving many endangered animals highly vulnerable to wildlife crime.
Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization with an innovative methodology that focuses on the interdependence of wildlife and human health in and around Africa’s protected areas. CTPH has three integrated strategic programs: Wildlife Conservation, Community Health and Alternative Livelihoods. Poverty alleviation and improving rural public health will contribute to greater biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in and around Africa’s protected areas.
Conservation is rooted in earning the support of the local communities who share a backyard with some of the most biodiverse wildlife in the world. Many of the most isolated and impoverished families live around protected areas in Africa—their lifestyles imposing an imminent threat to the survival of wildlife and habitats and eventually, themselves. Land encroachment, competition for food, and the spread of zoonotic disease between people, wildlife and livestock are all grim everyday realities.
CTPH has three main strategic programs: Gorilla Conservation, One Health and Alternative Livelihoods. Poverty alleviation and improving rural public health will contribute to greater biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in and around Africa’s protected areas.
The Mother Africa Trust was born out of the belief that, through effective volunteer eco-tourism and legitimate community collaborations a better future can be built for the rural communities in Zimbabwe. The Mother Africa Trust has facilitated the socio-economic development and empowerment of rural communities in Matopos and Hwange District.
Ever since we began in 2006, Mother Africa has worked tirelessly to make a positive and lasting difference in Zimbabwe. Mother Africa Trust’s top mission is to establish effective and sustainable projects that will improve the living conditions and the economic status of disadvantaged communities in Zimbabwe.
In recent years Mother Africa Trust has made significant positive steps towards offering children an equal opportunity to learn. Particular emphasis is given to orphans and vulnerable children as these make up a higher percentage of school dropouts if ever there were luck to see the doors of a classroom. Our Academic Scholarship programme offers full funding to deserving students from identified rural communities. The programme aims to support children who have not had the same educational benefits or opportunities in life as others.
MOTHER AFRICA TRUST PROJECTS
Drought Relief – Food Programme
At the heart of biting economic problems is a severe drought that has left many people in Zimbabwe facing extreme poverty and food insecurities. The rural populace is among those seriously affected, with many people going all day and night without eating. Everyday children turn up for school on an empty stomach, which makes it hard to focus on lessons. There is urgent need to scale – up assistance to drought affected people, and The Mother Africa Trust’s goal is to provide the much-needed relief to school children and vulnerable families that include grandma and child-headed families.
Lion Proof Bomas
Human – wildlife conflict has become one of the main threats to the continued survival of lions in Hwange National Park, and a significant threat to villagers living around these wildlife areas. Villagers have lost many livestock to predators and sometimes their lives are in danger as they try to protect their main source of livelihood. The lions are often killed in retaliation or to prevent future attacks. In seeking a solution to this, Mother Africa Trust has been building lion proof bomas for villagers in most affected areas. Lion proof bomas are kraals or enclosures that keep cattle safe at night and prevent them from being attacked by predators. Since 2018 Mother Africa Trust has built 9 lion proof bomas for villagers and they have proved very effective in mitigating conflict.
Human – wildlife conflict will not be solved overnight, but with your help we can attempt to reduce number of livestock and lions lost.
Scholarships and Education
Help us to give more disadvantage and orphaned children in the rural communities of Zimbabwe a chance to reach their potential in life. Your contribution can enable us to remove more children from the streets and also empower under-resourced rural schools with educational equipment and better learning facilities.
Sustainable Community Projects
Keeping with the model of empowerment, we have initiated two projects to benefit vulnerable families; the goat gift project in Matopos and the Road runner chicken project in Hwange. The goal is to allow these less privileged families to provide for their own support through the profit that comes from the production and reproduction of goats and chickens. When you help these families, you are investing not only in their welfare, but you are unlocking their potential.
The Mother Africa Anti-poaching Unit (MAAPU) works tirelessly to prevent all forms of poaching in the Ivory Lodge concession that borders Hwange National Park. These brave eco-guards frequently undertake anti-poaching operations in the concession removing snares and apprehending poachers. Through providing basics like shoes, backpacks, patrol equipment, camera traps and accommodation we can make sure that even the rangers protecting rhinos in Matobo National Park have the best chance to stay safe and protect wildlife. Together we will succeed in protecting the future of our planet.
Build Mgadla Primary School
Mgadla villagers in Matobo District have taken an initiative to build a school that will benefit more than 250 children between the age of 5 and 13 who are currently walking 8 – 10km to get to the nearest school. Many children are delayed starting school as they cannot manage to walk long distance. The first classroom block which comprises of two classrooms, is now at window level, and villagers having been providing pit sand, river sand, bricks and labour while we assisted them with cement, window frames, door frames and a professional builder. Your kind donation will help this desperate community roof this much needed classroom block.
In the quiet pre-dawn, our small group huddled together around the tea and coffee that the camp staff had so beautifully laid out. There was a ripple of excitement among my colleagues and fellow members of Safari Professionals–we were seeing a rhino receive a veterinary field check-up and be fitted with an electronic tracking device today! For some of us, this was a first time close encounter with the ‘nitty gritty’ of conservation work. We were thrilled to see conservation efforts we’re so passionate about in action! All of us support the incredible work being done by Map Ives and Rhino Conservation Botswana, and we couldn’t have been more grateful to the entire team from Wilderness Safaris for facilitating this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
When the time came, like the quiet creatures we were setting out to see, our group slowly moved toward our waiting helicopters. As the helis zipped us along to the rendezvous point, I marveled at how anyone could find a rhino in the vast landscape that is the Okavango Delta. Waves of hope and undercurrents of despair washed over me–hope that conservation efforts like these were having a positive impact for rhinos and despair that the situation is so dire that these operations are essential to the survival of this extraordinary species.
We touched down, and our small group met with the team of veterinarians who had identified a large adult male White Rhino for darting. It was an individual who had been relocated to Botswana some 20 years ago. The vet expertly tranquilized the rhino so that he could be fitted for his electronic monitoring devices. The veterinary team would also measure and check his overall health to document his condition. As we approached by vehicle and then on foot, I had to gasp at the sheer size of the rhinoceros. He was massive and lying peacefully as the vets quickly got their samples and measurements.
In the awed silence while watching them work, I could hear the rhino’s slow rhythmic breathing and watch his chest expand with each inhale. We could examine his enormous horn closely–even seeing the tiny fibers which make up this valuable commodity. We were able to touch the soft skin of his underbelly and his coarse mud-covered back.
I was filled with hope and my eyes teared up as the vets efficiently set the tracking devices in place and revived the rhino. Within a minute, our rhino stood and carefully scanned the area before sauntering into the nearby bush.
After a few days of meetings in Nairobi and a stay at the lovely new Hemingways Hotel, my Kenyan safari began with a flight past Mt Kenya to the Northern Laikipia Plateau. Here, I spent 2 nights at Sabuk Lodge perched on a cliff overlooking the Ewaso Nyiro River. This privately-owned lodge remains a family home run by the entertaining owner, Verity, who hosts all the meals regaling with stories of her rich history in the safari industry. Verity coordinates each guest’s schedule with unique adventure activities such as walking or hiking excursions and Masai-guided camel safaris with stunning views of the Laikipia plains, Mount Kenya, the Karisa Hills and the Mathews Mountains in the North.
For me, the real highlight was a surprise breakfast out in the bush after we had just walked past a breeding herd of female elephants and their young. I also really enjoyed jumping into the Ewaso Nyiro River for a refreshing swim in the heat of the day and can’t wait to return to do a longer overnight walking safari sleeping out with a simple mosquito net under the stars!
This is a great editorial piece by National Geographic’s Steve Boyes. It’s long, but well worth the read. Plus, it’s full of some amazing photos. The gist of it lies in this quote:
Right now, tourists from around the world coming to Africa to photograph the continent’s wildlife are the biggest conservationists by far. The operators and establishment owners that attract these tourists by selling the dream of an African photographic safari are the new ambassadors for conservation.
And that’s why we love our clients. It’s your passion and curiosity that is helping protect the world’s wild life and wild places.