AFRICA SPOTLIGHT: Community-Based Conservation
Our campaigns in Africa engage local communities in creative ways that nurture a love of wildlife and promote justice for human and animal communities.
Mambas in the Park
We can’t do it without your help!
Wildlife protection in South Africa and throughout the continent is hampered by a colonial legacy and colonial modalities of conservation; realities that in the past and still today continue to inflict harm on both humans and animals. Against this backdrop that straddles social inequities and injustices to iconic mega fauna, it is an unrealistic and –often- privileged assumption that disenfranchised communities will be eager to participate actively in the conversation about conservation.
Kruger National Park, South Africa’s jewel in the crown of SANParks, is one of the continent’s last bastions for wild creatures; a place where wild creatures are wild, a landscape through which they roam, feed, mate, give birth and die in relative freedom. Still, not too long ago, the indigenous living subsistence lifestyles in Kruger were displaced by colonial interests on behalf of instituting the park; it became a playground for white trophy and game hunters and wildlife viewers under the jurisdiction of government sanctioned policies which implicitly and explicitly excluded indigenous blacks from sharing in the experience.
Today, Kruger straddles two of South Africa’s eastern most provinces. Limpopo and Mpumalanga. A significant percentage of the country’s most marginalized indigenous who live in communities scattered throughout these provinces have never been to Kruger, rarely visit Kruger; some have never seen an elephant or rhino their entire lives. Once again, the legacy of apartheid, persistent fencing, segregation, poverty and the indifference of current and chronically corrupt African governments are causal factors. That the poaching of our wild relatives continues under these circumstances should come as no surprise; the priorities of those living with and adjacent to the creatures we wish to protect and the priorities of the rest of the world are unambiguously and painfully disparate.
GMFER in partnership with Transfrontier Africa (hot link to transfrontierafrica.co.uk) hopes to disrupt the prevailing status quo by engaging indigenous voices in a rich dialogue that leans to listening and learning as eagerly as it does to guiding, inspiring and teaching.
The simple and profound act of creating spaces and opportunities for indigenous communities to experience the wild landscape of Kruger will itself shift the paradigm significantly. How can one love what one never has an opportunity to experience?
“In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand and we will understand only what we are taught.”
― Baba Dioum, Senegalese Conservationist
GMFER, in partnership with Transfrontier Africa’s Anti Poaching Unit, The Black Mambas and SANParks’ Kruger National Park founded a program called “Mambas in the Park”; the program aims to sponsor and encourage people from indigenous communities surrounding Kruger to visit the park along with GMFER’s and Transfrontier Africa’s learners, guides and mentors. Mambas in the Park aims to disrupt historic colonial paradigms governing conservation, learn about indigenous modalities of conservation and, together, nurture an appreciation and reverence for wild and indigenous cultures.
Help us bring more kids, elders and learners to Kruger! Support “Mambas in the Park”!
The Music of Change
Donate to make Shubert’s studio a reality!
Shubert Mwarabu is a music-man marvel, a talented singer/songwriter and activist working in Tanzania to protect wildlife. He is passionate about engaging fellow Africans in the dialog about conservation, about protecting and caring for the continent’s wild heritage. His work was embraced by Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources in its broadcasts and awareness-raising programs. His work was also featured in National Geographic.
In 2016, Global March for Elephants and Rhinos partnered with Shubert, sponsoring his presence to sing and speak on behalf of the organization at the CITES/CoP17 conference in Johannesburg. In his song, Stop The Ivory Trade, he called for support of Appendix 1, an international regulation that would project elephants, listing them as an endangered species. GMFER has taken the initiative to continue this partnership, sponsoring Shubert in the same way for CoP18 in Colombo.
GMFER also sponsored Shubert’s successful application to participate in the Mandela Washington Fel-lowship. The program works to enable young advocates from Africa entering the USA to train in their field of advocacy or study. For Shubert this was very meaningful, a move that allowed him to grow and become better informed, several months spent training on advocacy and community engagement.
So effective and devoted to his work, GMFER extended an invitation for Shubert to serve as GMFER’s chapter president in Tanzania. The board was pleased to learn of his acceptance, knowing the fight to protect the wildlife in Tanzania would be in good hands.
In new and exciting ways, the partnership continues to grow. In the immediate future, GMFER and Shubert will establish and outfit a recording studio in Tanzania’s hinterland, close to his village of birth. Shubert has developed profound ties with indigenous, local communities in his country, reaching them through his music, as an organizer and activist. Until now, he has not had the opportunity to deepen these relationships in a sustained and scalable way, lacking the technology and resources to do so.
The studio will provide a rare opportunity – initially serving as a local community hub set up to generate music about conservation as well as a resource that will offer a space to record broadcasts designed to educate listeners, and tell stories about Africa’s wild wonder. The plan is to broadcast these stories across rural Tanzania through radio and online podcasts. GMFER will share the podcasts across all its social media platforms.
The basic concept for the studio is to operate as a self-sustaining facility. Shubert will be using it to make a living by hiring out the space for those who need to use it to produce advertisements, and other media related content. Shubert will be producing his own material as well, selling his music to support both himself and the studio.
Through his work, Shubert has come to recognize a troubling reality. There is a disconcerting absence of the indigenous voice in the conversation about conservation. While many ‘conservation NGOs’ are addressing the problem in earnest, there remains a disconcerting absence of black Africans in leadership and board positions among the vast majority of ‘conservation NGOs’ throughout the continent; the colonial paradigm of alienation and segregation remains a reality in the conservation world. Shubert is determined to confront this issue head-on. Indigenous peoples must lead as well as serve as advocates on behalf of Africa’s wildlife. This worthy goal will be a primary focus for Shubert as he develops programs to be broadcast from the new studio.
Follow-up on the broadcasts and conversations will be sustained through WhatsApp groups; many indigenous Africans cannot afford computers, yet widely embrace the use of smartphones. These WhatsApp groups will amplify the conversation, gathering together a community of indigenous voices whose love for wildlife and human communities will be nurtured and cherished.
A Mini Forest Grows in Faridabad
Help make the urban forest a reality!
In Faridabad, India, where a barren area was once covered with thousands of pounds of plastic trash, a beautiful urban mini-forest now stands. It was the vision of Samarrth Khanna, then 16, already a passionate advocate for animals and the environment. He began bringing awareness of environmental issues to his fellow students through the creation of the “Society Empowered for the Welfare of Animals and Mankind” (S.E.W.A.M.) Samarrth enlisted over twenty students to form the S.E.W.A.M. Mini Forest Brigade, which cleaned the lot and planted native trees, shrubs, and flowers that trap and absorb pollution while offering a vital sanctuary for local wildlife. With community help and the partnership of GMFER, Samarrth was also able to distribute more than 2500 native tree saplings. Samarrth is now 18 and a zoology and botany student with plans for a career in environmental and animal advocacy. He wants to give tours of the mini forest “so students can learn about urban biodiversity and wildlife, as we only conserve what we love, and we only love what we know, and we only know what we are taught.” GMFER will be providing ongoing support to the Mini Forest Brigade for the maintenance and expansion of this impactful project.
GMFER is sponsoring Samarrth’s attendance at CITES CoP18 in Sri-Lanka, where he will be speaking at a GMFER-sponsored side event. Samarrth is currently a member of GMFER Youth, Team leader for S.E.W.A.M., and co-founder of The Tigerline, a group dedicated to growing awareness about the urgent need for saving the lives of tigers in India. He distributes information to colleges and local schools and has appeared regularly on television and in local newspapers.
Guppets (GMFER Muppets and Puppets)
Donating = Loving
A wonderful South African woman from Hoedspruit, Sandra de Roubaix works with GMFER to design and craft Guppets (“GMFER Muppets”) for communities; the Guppets are to be used in drama/theatre and plays for children and adults. The goal is to amplify and sustain more awareness about iconic wildlife and the ongoing struggle experienced by indigenous communities in South Africa in the context of conservation. We hope to learn from these communities as well as to teach and guide. Ultimately, our wish is for all parties to arrive at a more organic, compassionate and holistic understanding of the difficult intersection of animal and social justice in South Africa. Featured in these images is Ancois de Villiers, a vibrant young South African woman who helps GMFER with its advocacy campaigns.
Bombo Lumene Tree Planting Project
Help GMFER support this project!
Conserv Congo started a tree-planting campaign in the Bombo Lumene region on the outskirts of a reserve near Kinshasa (DRC). GMFER sponsored the first set of trees planted in the region, where deforestation and a rampant bushmeat trade have taken a toll on wildlife and on the desperately poor human communities living nearby. Although elephants and lions no longer roam the area, the region still hosts dynamic wildlife, including the African Grey Parrot. Please DONATE to help GMFER support this project and sustain local engagement and interest.
Take Action: Use Your Voice!
Consumption is NOT Conservation
Urge Kenya to reject consumptive utilization of wildlife.
Storm and Tweet for Justice!
May 15, 2019
End Japan's Ivory Trade
Send letter urging a total ban on domestic trade.
Ban the Trade!
Urge Australia and New Zealand to end trade in ivory and rhino horn.
Killing is NOT Conservation
Demand ban on U.S. imports of elephant trophies.
End Canada's Ivory Trade
Ban the sale of elephant ivory in Canada. #ivoryfreecanada
Objection to Proposed Management Plan for Kruger
SANParks proposed a 10-year management plan for Kruger National Park that includes a golf course, clay-pigeon shooting, and culling elephants, shifting its focus from conservation to financial gain. Economic gains that harm wildlife and habitat are unacceptable. GMFER submitted objections to some aspects of this proposed plan. To submit your own objections, send an email to Andre.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campaign to Ban Ivory in Hong Kong
GMFER launched an online letter-writing campaign to Hong Kong officials urging passage of a complete ban on the domestic ivory trade. Pressure from the GMFER community along with conservation groups and activists from around the world resulted in a successful vote in January 2018 to ban the domestic ivory trade. GMFER Core Strategist, Shubert Mwabaru, visited Hong Kong and celebrated the historic vote to end the trade.
Helping Injured Elephants in Chad
We step up to assist in emergency situations whenever possible. In April 2017, a collaborative effort between Dr. Mike Toft, Foundation Franz Weber, GMFER, SOS Elephants of Chad (SOS Chad) and the African Elephant Coalition (AEC) led to a successful medical intervention on behalf of two African Elephants injured by bullet wounds.
GMFER uses online campaigns, grassroots organizing and protests to advocate against the trade in ivory and rhino horn and amplify the voices of indigenous African communities in the conversation about conservation.