Who am I raising money for?
I am raising money for Lewa Wildlife Conservancy because I am passionate about animal conservation.
I have always been fascinated by and excited to learn about animals. Learning how some animals are endangered, I wanted to help, and so when I was little, I raised money through lemonade stands to donate. Then I convinced my family to raise money through garage sales, and I explained to everyone who would listen why it is important to save these animals. And for a few years, we (my family and I) made/passed out bookmarks to teach others about protecting endangered animals and the environment. Since then I have learned a lot about what makes a great wildlife conservancy. What really eliminates wildlife unnecessary poaching? In two words, community conservation. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy is not only one of the birthplaces of this conservation model but is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to this community conservation model.
What is Community Conservation?
Community Conservation simply is a conservation model that incorporates community into the sustainability practices. The conservancy is not a box of land that animals are guarded on behind a fence. Instead it focuses on including local people IN the conservation model. Lewa works with neighboring communities to get them involved in conservation by first supporting them. Lewa provides jobs and health care to many men (as rangers and staff) and women (as bead workers) from the local communities. This income is extremely important to the local economy and the stability of the community. They also support schools and even host school field trips at Lewa, to educate kids about the importance of conservation. Lewa also has health clinics which provide vaccinations and medicine for very little or no cost to anyone in neighboring communities. They even have special wells and water way systems to help bring clean water to the edges of Lewa for the local communities to use. This access to fresh water helps lower diseases and infant mortality greatly, as well as provides a great place to let your cattle drink. The locations of these water stations are away from the fragile ecosystem of the freshwater creek, which then in turn are preserved. All these things and more make the local communities like Lewa. When Lewa prospers, they do too. This makes the local communities want Lewa to succeed so, they don’t kill the lion that ate their cattle. They don’t shoot the elephant that destroyed their fence and crops. This reduction in human-wildlife conflict is what brings back these populations of endangered animals.
When you think about it this model, it makes sense. The biggest take away from any sustainability/environmental class is first how everything is linked - how policies and acts affect the world’s ecosystems, and how money and the economy directly influence land and animal conservation. Because everything is interconnected, it makes sense to strengthen the bonds between people and the conservancy, because relationships are stronger than fences.
Why should I care?
Ok, rhinos are cool and all, but how does this affect me? While Lewa is especially known for their success with rhinos, the conservancy is also home to lions, elephants, grevy's zebras, and more. Nature does not obey man’s rule, and animals do not stay on the conservancy, they move around. By establishing the strong bonds of local communities and conservancy, “safe zones” increase for all nature. This is especially important to migrators like elephants. Elephants are a keystone species which means they greatly affect the environment and are critical to the entire African grassland ecosystem. By saving elephants you are also saving other wildlife that depend on elephants to survive. For Lewa in particular, there is over a 100 mile "safe zone" of common elephant migration routes.
Ok great, Lewa helps animals and people in Africa but how does this affect me, an American thousands of miles away? One of the most important things to we Americans is that we have freedom. Many countries throughout Africa are experiencing civil unrest, with corruption often funded by the illigal wildlife trade. By actively supporting wildlife conservancies you are cutting off the money supply.
What can I do to help?
· You can donate to my fundraiser (100% goes to Lewa Wildlife Conservancy)
· You can do your own research and find a conservancy that has a community conservation model.
· Erase your demand. Stopping poaching on the front lines is super important, but so is cutting off the demand for the wildlife part. Never purchase anything with rhino horn, elephant tusk, pangolin scale, etc. If you know anyone who has any of these items, shame them. Educate them. America is one of the largest importers of illegal wildlife and wildlife parts.
· Watch what you eat. Shark fin soup is part of the reason why 100 million sharks are killed each year (that’s about 190 sharks per minute). Many exotic meats can be purchased and in some places are consider a delicacy. By choosing not to buy you are reducing that demand.
· EDUCATE and SHARE what you know. I saved this for last because it is the most important. Educate yourself. Educate others. Be a voice for animals that can’t speak. Realize you are a part of this world, and so is every other form of wildlife. Be a steward for this earth.
If you have any questions about any of the above, please reach out to me. If you want to learn more about Lewa, I encourage you to visit their website at lewa.org