WILD works to protect wildlife, especially in Africa and especially with iconic species, in numerous ways, from direct anti-poaching to community-based management and empowerment.
We have been doing this a long time, beginning in the early 1960’s in South Africa with our founder, Dr. Ian Player, one of the world’s legendary conservationists and environmental statesmen. Born in South Africa in 1927, he “earned his stripes” in the rough and tumble era during which Africa’s protected areas were being created and tested. With his team, he also pioneered the saving of endangered large mammals when they saved the white rhino from extinction (Operation Rhino).
From Ian Player’s first visit to the iMfolozi Game Reserve in South Africa’s Zululand in 1952, the salvation of the White rhino from extinction became almost an obsession with him. The White Rhino, the second largest land animal in the world, had roamed over the southern half of the African continent in large numbers during the nineteenth century. Now fewer than five hundred remained, confined to 72,000 acres – not nearly enough territory for them to remain healthy and alive. The problems faced by Ian Player and his co-workers, both African and European, were twofold: How to repopulate the game reserves where White rhinos had once lived and how to create dispersed gene pools/breeding groups of White rhinos in the modern, large enclosure, natural type zoos and safari parks of the world. Learn more about Dr. Player’s pioneering work to save the species in his book, The White Rhino Saga.
Forever Wild Rhino Protection
Continuing the protection of the rhino, the members of Wilderness Foundation Global, which includes the Wilderness Foundation (Africa), Wilderness Foundation UK, and WILD are taking urgent action to address steadily increasing levels of rhino poaching in South Africa. In May 2011, the Wilderness Foundation set up a petition to voice the public’s outcry over the cruelty of rhino poaching. The petition, which was taken to the highest governmental powers in March 2012, is a vital part of the Wilderness Foundation’s lobbying campaign. It received over 18,000 signatures from around the world, and together with an integrated YouTube and social media campaign, generated worldwide awareness of the rhino poaching crisis.
Through a partnership with Safari Club International and the Magqubu Ntomebla Foundation, we established an expert team of informants with experience in intelligence gathering and legal & forensic expertise. The goal of the informants, a specialized project which was initiated at the end of 2010 for a specific period of time, was to identify and collect information on poachers that lead in some cases to arrest or exposure. In June 2011, our closest working colleagues at the Wilderness Foundation (SA) and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles announced VW’s sponsorship of six Amarok bakkies (pick up trucks) to the Rhino Protection Initiative, creating a long term initiative to help protect the rhino in South Africa.
The Mali Elephant Project
Mali is a beautiful, landlocked desert country in North West Africa. Perhaps best known for its rich cultural diversity, Mali is also home to the northernmost herd of African elephants. Research conducted by Save the Elephants using GPS elephant collars mapped the elephant ranges and revealed a unique pattern of migration among African elephants. Led by project manager Dr. Susan Canney, WILD developed a plan, obtained funding and got to work with Save the Elephants, the International Conservation Fund of Canada and other partners to answer a few key questions:
- The Elephants of Mali In the early stages of this program, not much was known about the unique herd of elephants in Mali.
- Are the elephants in Danger? Once we knew a bit more about the elephant population, it was clear that imminent threats exist and that conservation action was needed to secure the future of the herd.
- What can be done to help? We’ve embarked on a large-scale action and outreach program to work with local communities, government officials, tourism companies and others to help the Mali elephants, and in turn, help the people of Mali.
Our next step included public dialogue and social studies to help us understand how the increasing human population and consequent demands on resources are pushing this herd to the edge. The environment is naturally variable, both from year to year and season to season. However, these shifts are exacerbated by the rapid increase in competition for resources and increased pressures by agricultural development.
Wild Boulder: Citizen Science in Action
The Boulder County Wildlife Project on iNaturalist is a call for community members to take an active role in protecting our open spaces and wildlife here in Boulder County, Colorado. By participating as citizen scientists, individuals will provide local land managers with a stronger understanding of where and when these animals are being observed, and what they need to thrive in this unique ecosystem we call home.
The Boulder County Wildlife Project utilizes iNaturalist, an online network that provides a platform for participants to record their wildlife observations. By taking and uploading photos, species identifications, geographic locations, observation dates, and other relevant notes, citizen scientists can assist open space experts as they create a database of wildlife in the area.
This project is a joint initiative of the WILD Foundation, City of Boulder, and Boulder County.
In addition to our main wildlife protection projects, WILD takes great pride in its partnerships– many of these work directly with endangered & iconic species. We work with local partners & communities to ensure that projects are implemented according to local traditions, customs and manners. This approach gives our projects a grass-roots outlook with a larger support and knowledge network. Our collaborative approach leverages resources to ensure that the maximum amount of each donor dollar supports work on-the-ground.
WILD’s mission includes stimulating and assisting the growth of a wide conservation movement, not just building its own organization and balance sheet. One (of many) ways WILD does this is to establish Collaborative Conservation Agreements (CCA) with other groups and projects that are compatible with its mission and are approved by its board of directors.