How We're Fighting to Preserve Wildlife
With a recent report by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London suggesting that the world is set to lose two thirds of its wildlife by 2020, the fight to conserve and protect our wild spaces and animals has never been more pressing.
Operating in some of the most remote parts of Africa and working closely with local communities and government bodies, we see hope for the world’s wildlife. Here’s why:
Over the past 30 years, black rhino populations have decreased by 98%, and the situation isn’t much better for white rhino. The rise of wealth across Asia in recent years has increased demand in rhino horn, stunting population growth and making some parts of Africa hotspots for poaching. Working with Rhino Conservation Botswana, the Botswana Defence Forces and other partners, we have been involved in relocating rhino from these danger zones to the relative safety of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Following on from this, we will study the growing rhino population so that we can learn about their territories, foraging and breeding habits, and answer the question “was this a success and can it be replicated or expanded?”.
In Tanzania, Sanctuary Kusini has partnered with Serengeti Cheetah Project to monitor the region’s cheetah. Using guest photographs taken during game drives, the project can record population numbers and follow the lives of individuals. One of our guests even discovered a cheetah who had been missing for three years, leading to it being named Kusini.
At all of our properties we also monitor wildlife to ensure any injured animals are cared for and any dangerous or illegal activities are reported. Unfortunately, Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma often deals with animals who have been caught in snares. This primitive and ruthless poaching method often ends up with elephants or buffalo wondering into camp with serious injuries that need immediate attention. Some of these injuries can be treated quickly, while others can lead to dramatic and traumatic rescues. We work with resident organisations to ensure that every animal that can be saved, is saved.
One of the biggest threats to the world’s wild animals is human-wildlife conflict, and it is the local communities who live alongside the national parks and game reserves who make or break the future of these animals. By working closely with the leaders of these communities, we hope to change attitudes towards wildlife and help prevent conflict.
In Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, for example, we’ve given villagers the knowledge and tools to prevent the park’s huge population of elephants from raiding crops and destroying homes in their search for food and water, while in Zambia we run business courses that often touch on conservation awareness and environmental best practice. By empowering people and giving them the ability to prevent human-wildlife conflict themselves, we hope to give them the desire to conserve and protect wildlife.
Understanding the how in conservation is important, but the biggest change comes when we understand the why too. For many, this comes from seeing animals in a different light. Working with the Living with Elephants Foundation in Botswana, we introduce school groups to our three semi-habituated elephants, Jabu, Thembi and Morula, allowing the children to interact closely with elephants and explore the complex interactions between people and elephants, with the aim to inspire more positive relationships in the future. In Kenya’s Masai Mara, we take children on game drives and introduce the animals to the students in the same way a Sanctuary Retreats guest would experience them. In teaching about the animals and their importance to the ecosystem and the tourism industry, we are building up a new generation of wildlife and conservation advocates.
Inspiring the next generation of conservationists doesn’t just happen on a game drive; it also takes place in the classroom. We strongly believe that in order to make a difference, the communities who coexist with wildlife must have access to a good education, and it is with thanks to the generosity of our guests that we can deliver on this.
Working in partnership with communities close to our properties, we support various schools in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia. From building classrooms to funding lunch programmes, we work with each community to ensure their particular needs are filled. In Tanzania, this means supporting a primary and secondary school for deaf and disabled children while in Uganda we fund a nursing school. No matter what the specialism, it is important to incorporate environmental education into the syllabus to inform the students of the need for conservation.
In Zambia we support Nakatindi village close to Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma, including considerable backing to Nakatindi Primary School. As well as refurbishing classrooms and building a kitchen for the students, our guides regularly host conservation-themed lectures focusing on topics such as waste management, poaching and learning about specific species. These are usually followed by a game drive where the children have the chance to spot elephant, rhino and other wildlife. It is the reaction of these kids, as their fear transforms into awe and appreciation, which gives us the most hope for the future of wildlife conservation.
If you would like to get involved in any of our philanthropy projects, you can do so while visiting our properties, or by contacting our reservations team.