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Helping Rhinos with JDB – 5

My Dinner With The Chief. A day ago, I had one of the highlights of my professional career, something that I have long read about in African adventure books: I had dinner and a game drive with an African Chief and his Royal Family. And, more importantly, it was a transformative experience in what has been a massively transformative work trip to South Africa. Meeting the Chief and the many similar experiences, do not come about commonly and certainly not easily. I feel this came about because of our success in two core hallmarks of successful community based conservation: cultural respect and collaboration. For too long, conservation and community work […]

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Helping Rhinos with JDB – 4

The Communities Have Spoken Well, we have really done it now! We’ve been here in South Africa for four weeks, working non-stop, and I am really happy to say we are done! All told, we have completed 151 individual interviews about the social impact of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit program – and we have even entered nearly all of them into the data sheet. Well okay, not completely completed. We are done with most of the data collection that we need to do, with only a handful of the remaining interviews that we will do early next week with those few people who have been on vacation. Embarrassingly, I […]

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Helping Rhinos with JDB – 3

Buy a Bag, Empower a Woman, Change a Community, Save Species Today The Living Desert made possible a small but important change that furthers conservation, just by buying some extremely artistic batik bags! I’m not one that is quick to tears, but I definitely welled up a bit today! Okay, more than a bit. We do conservation in many ways at The Living Desert. However, an important aspect of conservation that is frequently overlooked among the public is the importance of stimulating sustainable livelihoods for local communities, near to where wildlife thrives. In my experience, conservation cannot exist where poverty thrives. When you are extremely poor, you are challenged to […]

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Pathways Africa with Mike – Day Four

Day Four: Today I was witness to a school field trip program like no other. Some of you may have meet Julian Fennessy, Co. Founder and Co. Director of The Giraffe Conservation Foundation, based in Namibia. Julian was one of our conservation speakers in October for our “Year of the Giraffe” campaign. The Living Desert supports the great work of Julian and GCF. I had the opportunity to spend the day with Rachel de Raan, Environmental Education Coordinator and her staff from GCF. I participated in a run through of their school program called (KEEP). The Khomas Environmental Education Programme (KEEP) is an exciting initiative of GCF in Namibia. KEEP […]

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Helping Rhinos with JDB

AT LAST WE BEGIN Dr. James Danoff-Burg, 12 Jan 2018, Balule Game Reserve, Limpopo Province, South Africa The vervet monkeys woke me again today. They are simultaneously adorable and infuriating, inquisitive and terrified, quiet and racket making – a bundle of contradictions, but that is also the nature of doing conservation work in Africa. I am here in South Africa for five weeks to lead a team of researchers from California State University San Marcos, Helping Rhinos, and The Living Desert to evaluate the social impact of what has become one of the bright points of light in conservation: The all-female Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit. The Mambas work in the […]

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Pathways Africa with Mike – Day Three

Day Three: With a light rain falling on Windhoek and after a hearty breakfast at 6:30am it’s time for day two of conservation training. The training commenced with a lecture on Land Tenure and Management, presented by Kelly Stoner, associate Conservation Scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Kelly is leading the Bison Program in Montana in the effort to restore wild, free-ranging bison to tribal lands. Kelly’s work has focused on human-wildlife conflict, applied conservation research, and strategic communication and has taken her to Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia. Kelly started with an introduction of the structure and maintenance of Namibia’s communal conservancy system. With many African Nations attending we heard […]

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Pathways Africa with Mike – Day Two

Day Two: Today, as part of the Pathways training 45 participants we visited the fame of Ulf-Dieter Voight, owner of Krumhun farms. His family have been cattle farmers since 1909. In 1996 he changed Krumhuk to biodynamic farming with their community developing different production lines and processing their own produce. From dairy products, honey, sunflower oil and many other pure organic products. The farm is located in a mountainous terrain which is prime for predators like the cheetah, leopard, jackal, and caracal, which creates human wildlife conflict. In order to improve rangeland management, prevent losses to predators, and to build a better relationship between cattle and humans, many aspects of […]

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