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Gifts with the power to change lives

November 26, 2021

A few weeks ago I was sitting on the deck of Xigera Safari Lodge in Botswana when something incredible occurred right in front of me. A young, gangly bushbuck was standing on the bank of the river as a pair of juvenile vervet monkeys approached. In a split second, the tranquil scene was disturbed as one of the monkeys sped towards the bushbuck and jumped onto its back. The buck, in what I assumed to be a state of panic, sped off, only to do an abrupt about-turn and career back towards the monkeys before lowering itself onto its forelegs – bum in the air and back legs akimbo – in a playful bow. This was met with absolute delight by the monkeys, who threw themselves, by way of repeated dramatic rollovers, onto their backs. In a moment of joy, I realized that I was witnessing a priceless example of inter-species play with the kind of mischief common to all young mammals. 

It was a sight I will remember for the rest of my days and one that gave me enormous comfort as I watched the developments of the COP26 UN Climate Conference which took place in Scotland earlier this month. For while the swift and decisive reforms we had so anticipated were kiboshed at the 11th hour, I remained hopeful. Because I know that in exposing our like-minded guests to these moments in Africa’s fragile and last-remaining wilderness areas – and to the many initiatives that work hard to preserve them – we form a powerful groundswell of civic society rising up together for the rescue of our planet. 

Making a difference

There are many organizations doing incredible work to change the global collective consciousness on issues ranging from climate change, to conservation, women’s empowerment and social upliftment. The powerful work of WildAid, an organization with whom ROAR AFRICA has partnered for five years, comes to mind. WildAid’s strategy of educating ordinary people is paying off. After so many squandered years of denial, distraction and delay, the prioritizing of the environmental crisis has come down to us. With this mind, and in keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, consider giving to an organization working to make a difference during the gifting season. 

Our collated list of causes, charities and initiatives consists of those that uphold values that mirror our own. So, whether you adopt an orphan elephant, sponsor a child in Africa, or donate to WildAid to help end the illegal wildlife trade, you can do so knowing you are making a meaningful difference that will impact the course of history. 

Alternatively, if you’d like to give the gift of travel, we can tailor-make a consciousness-raising journey designed for you or your family and filled with the kind of immersive joy I related at the start. For more information, mail welcome@roarafrica.com.

See our list below to learn more about each wonderful, worthy cause. 

WildAid

Imagine a world where people no longer buy wildlife products such as shark fin, ivory and pangolin scales… That’s the world which we at ROAR AFRICA and WildAid envision. Every day, from the plains of Africa to the depths of the world’s oceans, animals are caught and killed for profit. The illegal wildlife trade is thought to be worth $10-20 billion dollars a year. Like WildAid, we believe that mobilizing our global community around the benefits of protecting what wildlife we have left is the most effective way to generate positive change. So important is the message that WildAid purports, that it enjoys the unrivalled support of more than 100 celebrity ambassadors including HRH Prince William, Leonardo DiCaprio and David Beckham. WildAid also boasts an impressive and powerful global network of media partners that help the organization to leverage more than $230 million in annual pro-bono media support. Using the same techniques as high-end advertisers, WildAid’s message not to buy these products ensures that up to 1 billion people a week are familiar with the WildAid slogan: “When the buying stops, the killing can too”.

To further champion the incredible work of WildAid, ROAR AFRICA has curated a selection of beautiful items should you wish to purchase a gift in support of their initiatives. Breathtaking wildlife photographs – captured by our clients Rocky Draper and Gail Breen while on the Greatest Safari on Earth – are now available to purchase in the form of prints, tote bags, towels and gift cards. We are delighted about this new product offering – especially as all of the proceeds received are donated to WildAid. Please visit the Fine Art America website to view the full product offering.

If you’d like to donate to end illegal wildlife trade in our times, click on the link.

SA College for Tourism (SACT)

The South African College for Tourism (SACT) is a game-changing women’s empowerment initiative and a non-profit organization based in Graaff-Reinet. It was founded by Dr Anton and Gaynor Rupert in 2001, in partnership with international agencies and public donors. Their goal? To train young women from underprivileged backgrounds in tourism. The college’s phenomenal success is in providing critical on-the-job skills training that will enable these women to work in hospitality. Furthermore, the Drostdy Hotel, owned by the Rupert family, is committed to providing 30 internship positions every year, which means that guests are contributing to their training, with profits ploughed straight back into SACT. If you’d like to explore ways in which you can help – from sponsoring a year’s tuition for an aspiring tourism student to contributing towards operational costs – click here

The Tracker Academy

The Tracker Academy is a division of SACT and teaches the ancient skill of tracking animals in the wild. It was the realization of a long-held dream for game ranger Alex van den Heever, who was shocked when he realized that there was no formal qualification through which to impart this valuable skill set to a new generation. Nor was there a system that recognized how tracking impacts positively on conservation. Luckily, Alex’s passion caught the attention of philanthropist Gaynor Rupert, whose foresight brought Alex’s dream to life. Today, the Tracker Academy trains 16 students per annum by way of a fully sponsored course at a cost of $6 000 per student (that includes all training, food, accommodation, learning materials and field trips) to produce students who find employment in the eco-tourism, anti-poaching and animal monitoring industries. The benefits of this were illustrated to us on a recent trip to the Kalahari, where we were very proud to have the expertise of Africa’s first and only fully qualified female tracker, Kelathilwe Malaki. If you would like to make an online donation towards a year’s tuition for an aspiring tracker, click here for more details.

Save the Elephants

Africa’s human population is set to double by 2050 and this puts enormous pressures on Africa’s elephants – as farmland expands and infrastructure infiltrates wilderness habitats further. The Save The Elephants Foundation (STE) conducts vital research on elephant behavior and ecology and has pioneered a GPS radio tracking system that provides critical insights. We have worked closely with Dr Lucy King, the head of the Human Elephant Co-existence Program, whose design of a ground-breaking beehive fence has reduced human-elephant conflict in the communities in which she works by a staggering 80%. Her initiative offers effective protection of community crops, a pollination service for the farmers and the creation of revenue via the elephant-friendly honey that is produced as a by-product. Dr King’s story so moved our guests on a recent trip at which she spoke, that she has been awarded an enormous grant from a US foundation as well as the opportunity to educate the world on the importance of elephant conservation by becoming a speaker at TEDWomen later in the year. Learn more about how you can contribute here.

Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT)

The sight of the tiny elephant orphans swathed in their colorful Swahili blankets, trotting out from their enclosures every morning at Kenya’s Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (SWT), is a poignant reminder of the casualties caused by man’s destructive nature. The SWT is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation centre in the world and a pioneering conservation organization for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. Founded in 1977 by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in memory of her late husband, David Sheldrick MBE – the famous naturalist and founding warden of Tsavo East National Park – the trust continues today under the auspices of Angela Sheldrick (Daphne and David’s daughter) and her team. By embracing measures which complement the conservation, preservation and protection of wildlife, the SWT’s passion to make a difference inspires people around the world. Visit this link to donate.

Imibala Trust

Watching a child’s face light up at the sight of a new school uniform is an emotional experience which never loses appeal for us. In a world where most of us view uniforms as an anachronism, a school uniform in Africa has the power to change a life. The primary focus of the Imibala Trust is the provision of primary education through its “Sponsor a Child” program and an after-school care facility which offers extracurricular activities such as art and pottery, drama, ballet, math enrichment, computer literacy and life skills. To date, our long relationship with Imibala has entailed the generation of sponsorship to cover uniforms and school fees, and we have been proud to watch our guests leave with a renewed sense of optimism from a visit here. If you’d like to sponsor a child or donate a school uniform, click on the link.

Big Life Foundation

We’ve watched with awe the enormous achievements of Big Life Foundation since its inception nearly 10 years ago by photographer Nick Brandt, award-winning conservationist Richard Bonham, and entrepreneur Tom Hill. Big Life employs hundreds of Maasai rangers at more than 40 permanent outposts and tent-based field units across a staggering 2 million acres of Kenya’s Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro (Greater Amboseli) ecosystem in East Africa. Its mission is to protect and sustain Amboseli – one of the most important ecosystems in Africa with the greatest elephant population in East Africa. It also echoes our own vision: conservation supports the people and people support conservation. To purchase Nick Brandt’s powerful and profound photographs (for every purchase, 80% goes back to conservation in Kenya), click here.

Uthando

Love, compassion and respect for our common humanity is the motivation behind Uthando (meaning love in Xhosa), an internationally award-winning non-profit organization and Fair Trade certified company. As a model of travel philanthropy and responsible tourism, Uthando supports a broad range of inspiring and innovative community development projects in South Africa. We support their respectful and culturally sensitive philanthropic tours and experiences, and their celebration of South Africa’s “Proudly South African” manifesto across an array of initiatives – from township micro-farming, to refugee educational initiatives, and employment opportunities for those leaving prison. We recently collaborated with Uthando to sponsor a concrete table-tennis table which was installed at the Sinovuyo Centre in Khayelitsha. If you’d like to donate a table-tennis table to a community in need, click on this link.

Ol Jogi

Wildlife conservation informs everything at Ol Jogi – with the philosophy that protecting wild species and their habitats will prevent further extinction. The landscape surrounding Ol Jogi is known for having the largest diversity of big mammals on the planet, and as such it is an important breeding ground for some of the planet’s most critically endangered species. Kenya is one of the few remaining countries on the continent where wildlife is minimally fenced and free to roam, much as it has been since time immemorial. Human encroachment and the consumption of natural resources coupled with poaching is responsible for much of the reduction in wildlife numbers. At Ol Jogi, wildlife migration is considered critical for sustainable habitats as well as to ensure genetic diversity and resilience. As such there are 18 "rhino-proof" wildlife corridors at Ol Jogi that facilitate the migration of all wildlife species. Ol Jogi also has a veterinary and wildlife rescue center to care for wildlife that has been orphaned or injured due to human activity. These initiatives are all self-funded and Ol Jogi also supports a wildlife education center and environmental observation initiative that utilises ecologically sustainable solutions to support ecological systems in need. Other projects include helping local communities with access to water, health and education, as well as women’s empowerment, land rehabilitation and housing. Help support Ol Jogi's projects here.

Zeitz Foundation

Jochen Zeitz is a businessman who has consistently used his wealth to change opinions on everything from African art (he is of Zeitz MOCAA fame) to conservation and climate. The current director and chairman of Kering’s sustainable development committee board, Zeitz co-founded the B-Team with Sir Richard Branson (a not-for-profit initiative that seeks to catalyse better ways of doing business). More than 12 years ago, he bought an old cattle farm on Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau. Spanning some 50 000 acres – that’s three times the size of Manhattan – he immediately set about implementing his ideas by removing all fences, reintroducing game to the area and rehabilitating the overgrazed land. At first, he used it as his own personal retreat, but soon realized that he wanted it to function as a platform for his ideas. And so, while Segera is the Zeitz Foundation headquarters, it’s also one of The Long Run's destinations, a Global Ecosphere Retreat that offers visitors unparalleled opportunities to experience nature. Zeitz saw his decision to turn Segera into a tourist lodge as an opportunity to illustrate how a luxury retreat in the African bush could be run on ecological principles. The vision of the Zeitz Foundation is much the same in that it is dedicated to achieving the highest standards of sustainability through the 4C’s: a balance of conservation, community, culture and commerce in privately managed areas. There are many worthwhile causes under its umbrella that you can support, from funding an all-women anti-poaching ranger academy, to the Tree of Life Reforestation Initiative, schools and bursaries, Vocational Training Academy for Forestry and Permaculture, facilitating water access and the SATUBO Kindergarten. Visit the link to learn more.

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