Conservation & Community
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre
The Centre, established in 1971, was known originally as the De Wildt Cheetah Centre, but it has recently been renamed The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre as a tribute to the woman who has devoted her life to the survival of the cheetah species.
While the cheetah project was the base from which Ann launched her conservation ethic, it soon widened to include other endangered animal species, such as the African wild dog, brown hyaena, serval, suni antelope, and riverine rabbits. A 3-hour guided tour of the centre is offered daily, and recently a Cheetah Run has also been introduced (Tues, Thurs, Sat am only), where "Ambassador Cheetahs" race to achieve top speeds.
Chimps of Eden
The world renowned Jane Goodall Institute has made this tranquil venue (15km from Nelspruit / Mpumalanga) its South African sanctuary and has committed itself to the rescue and care of chimpanzees in need of refuge. The goal of the Sanctuary is to rescue chimpanzees that have survived hunting ordeals but are still misplaced through the lucrative illegal pet trade to zoos, circus performers and medical research facilities. Visitors have a unique opportunity to see chimpanzees in semi-wild surroundings with normal social interaction and behavioral patterns under group members. Guided tours leave every 2nd hour from 10h00 until 14h00.
Great Plains Conservation
ABOUT GREAT PLAINS and CONSERVATION TOURISM
The story of Great Plains Conservation... What brought this all about? Over the past decades we have agonisingly witnessed how much of the world's majestic and symbolic wildlife, parks and wildernesses have come under increasing threat despite all the conservation efforts to protect them. These species and their habitats are being poached, hunted, developed, mined, polluted, used and abused at an alarming rate. Today, often as a result of expanding population pressure, these rare places are valued less, not more; protected less, not more. In order to secure a future for the planet's last remaining wildernesses, these threats must stop; and alternative, bold, sustainable conservation models must be created - those that integrate communities, Government and the private sector.
Five individuals in their 50s pooled their wide ranging skills and experience to create innovative, world-class conservation projects in a number of diverse and threatened habitats throughout Africa, the Indian Ocean and eventually in India. The world's citizens must make a choice - "where to from here?" We believe there can only be one goal - saving some of the last great, iconic, and wild places of the world.
This is the mission: to find the right formula between conservation, communities and commerce. Great Plains Conservation's model takes stressed and threatened environments, surrounds them with compassionate protection and intelligent management.
Great Plains Conservation is an initiative to help curb this downward spiral of our threatened natural world by being proactive today, and by applying what we know best. This is the development of a sound conservation model, which is sustainably funded by a blend of sensitive, low volume, low impact tourism, frequently coupled with the sale of carbon credits and in some cases with the sale of a small number of villas or bush-homes. Together, these private sector initiatives create the capital needed to help fund the overall conservation initiatives. Our primary ambition is to create of a number of flagship, or "gold standard" conservation programs in areas that previously have been deemed unsalvageable. Our hope is that these conservation initiatives will become successful, sustainable and inspire others around the world to replicate the model.
You may ask then, "What is the difference between Great Plains Conservation and other companies which promulgate ecotourism?" Most ecotourism companies are primarily travel companies that sometimes carry out conservation initiatives to help sustain their ecotourism operations. In contrast, Great Plains Conservation is foremost a conservation organisation, which operates ecotourism to maintain conservation as a sustainable land use alternative. In short, in order for conservation to be that preferred land use, there must be an economic driver, which provides reliable benefits for surrounding rural communities and government.
Visit our website and view our projects
‘We have been working with Wilderness Safaris since 1996. We have watched them grow into the most responsible ecotourism and Conservation Company I have had the pleasure to work with. As an agent I travel to the countries they have camps for our guests, and over the years have the privilege to watch them grow into an amazing organization I am proud to know. Our guests are constantly amazed at what they can do in the wilds of Africa and the staff that work in the places are enormously proud and feel blessed to be a part of this.’
-- Africa Discovery
We believe that in protecting the pristine wilderness areas of southern Africa, and including the local communities in this process, we will make a difference to Africa and ultimately the world. Our greatest delight is to share these wild places with our guests in a responsible manner.
Wilderness Safaris is a conservation organization and ecotourism company dedicated to responsible tourism throughout the areas in which it operates in southern Africa. Its goal is to share these wild areas with guests from all over the world, while at the same time helping to ensure the future protection of Africa's spectacular wildlife heritage and sharing the benefits of tourism with local communities.
Wilderness Safaris Wins Condé Nast Traveler World Savers Award
Children In The Wilderness
by Wilderness Safaris
Our mission to facilitate sustainable conservation through leadership development
Children in the Wilderness is an environmental and life skills educational programme that focuses on the next generation of rural decision makers. It is one of the few programmes aimed at bridging the divide that exists between communities and wildlife.
Children in the Wilderness hosts rural children that live alongside our Parks and Reserves and teaches them the importance of conservation. The Children in the Wilderness programme aims to develop environmental leaders who are inspired to care for their natural heritage so that they become the custodians of these areas in the future.
Children in the Wilderness exposes children to their wildlife heritage, builds and strengthens their capabilities to cope with life's challenges and educates them with the life skills necessary to actualize their greatest potential.
“I will remember everything they taught me about the environment and my self to have a brighter future.”
(Bathusi Zumbo – Children in the Wilderness Participant, Botswana)
“I came to a place of joy and passion. I will educate my borther [brother] and sister how to preserve nature.”
(Roscah Ngoma – Children in the Wilderness Participante, Zambia)
To date we have hosted 3,159 children in the Children in the Wilderness
programme in seven Southern African countries,
totalling 18,989 children-in-camp days.
Botswana - Wild Dog Research
by Wilderness Safaris
Operating since 1989, Dr. "Tico" McNutt and his team have accumulated a most extensive database on the behaviour and ecology of the African wild dog, the second most endangered carnivore in Africa. Chitabe Camp, situated within the western part of the study area, works closely with the researchers of the Botswana and contributes toward the funding of this long-running conservation project. Dave and Helene Hamman, the owners of Chitabe and Chitabe Lediba, have dedicated many years to photographing the African wild dog and their efforts, combined with the extensive knowledge of Dr. "Tico" McNutt, culminated in the book, Running Wild: Dispelling the Myths of the African Wild Dog.
Wild dogs require large natural areas in which to roam, hunt and raise young. As Africa becomes more developed, conflicts with humans continue to mean declining populations for these predators through livestock conflicts, disease, poaching and road killing. In addition to the ongoing monitoring of wild dogs, the research programme incorporates a study of the relationships between people, parks and predators, an examination of the wild dogs' system of communication and a survey of the population and ranging behaviour of wild dogs in the marginal livestock areas. Overall programme efforts focus on finding new solutions for the conservation and management of wild dogs and other predators in a complex mosaic of habitats.
Dr. McNutt and the wild dogs featured in the May 1999 edition of National Geographic Magazine and the project has also been the focus of a BBC's Natural World film - 'Newky: A Wild Dog's Story' - that was released in January 2002. Ongoing research, as well as addressing the surrounding communities' attitudes towards these animals, has resulted in a gradual increase in awareness of the plight of the African wild dog.
The tented field camp is located at the south-eastern end of the Okavango Delta on the edge of Moremi Reserve, where the wild dogs and local people's attitudes towards predators have been studied since 1989. The project is associated with the University of Montana and its graduate students are pursuing research on communication, behaviour, conflict management and monitoring of predators here.
Maputaland Sea Turtle
by Wilderness Safaris
Situated along the extreme north-east coastline of South Africa and in the Maputaland Coastal Forest Reserve, the Rocktail Bay area hosts an annual spectacle that has remained unchanged for thousands of years. Every summer, hundreds of Leatherback and Loggerhead turtles complete their breeding cycle and emerge from the Indian Ocean to lay their eggs on this stretch of coastline - incredibly most returning to the exact beach on which they themselves hatched!
Back in 1963, scientists from the then-Natal Parks Board under the direction of Dr George Hughes initiated a project to study and protect the dwindling turtle numbers. Because of our long-term interest in the conservation of this extraordinary area, we have backed this project financially for many seasons. The project is deemed the longest ongoing scientific study of turtles in the world! The results from this study show that our turtle population is one of very few in the world that is on the increase.
For the past few years, guides at Rocktail have shared the nightly patrols and monitoring with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, while part of the annual concession fees that Rocktail pays go toward the wages of the seasonal turtle scouts who are employed at this time of year to guard the turtle nests and help patrol the beaches. Guests visiting Rocktail in summer are therefore able to interact with the guides and scientists patrolling the beach at low tide at night in search of nesting turtles. The sight of a 750kg Leatherback heaving herself up and down the beach to lay her eggs must rate as one of the most moving wildlife experiences anywhere.
Namibia - Save The Rhino Trust
by Wilderness Safaris
About the Save the Rhino Trust
The desert-adapted black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) living in the Kunene Region (former Damaraland and Kaokoland) in the arid north-west of Namibia is the only rhino population in the world that has survived on communal land with no formal conservation status.
In the early 1980s in this vast, strangely beautiful and spectacular desert scenery, a savage slaughter of desert wildlife took place. As the rhino numbers shrank to near extinction, a group of concerned people (scientists, geologists, community leaders, nature conservation officials, journalists, housewives and businessmen) gathered together to form a Trust, the aim of which was to stop the horrendous slaughter of rhino, elephant and other wildlife, which was taking place in the desert and high in the mountains of NW Namibia.
Determination, hard work and the help of international funds gave birth to the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT). Since its founding 25 years ago poaching has drastically declined and the rhino population has more than trebled!
Since the Trust's inception, it has successfully collaborated with government, traditional leaders and local community with an aim to provide security for and monitor the rhino population in the region, as well as to benefit the community through conservation and tourism. Ironically, previously convicted poachers were employed by the Save the Rhino Trust as guards - since they had extensive knowledge of the habits of rhino! Local chiefs and headmen as well as neighbouring farming communities all enthusiastically support the SRT's aim: to halt the extermination of the endangered black rhino and other endangered wildlife on communal land.
Less than 10% of the staff is based in towns or offices, while the rest remain field-based. At present all staff are Namibians. The majority of employees come from the areas neighbouring the rhino range within the Kunene region and amongst them are several rural women. Many more community members are benefiting indirectly from the work done by SRT, through the Trust's employment of local people.