“There is no Planet B!” says Sarah Davies from Game Rangers International when we asked her about the importance of wildlife projects. The Zambian natural environment is a rich and beautiful ecosystem. It provides both social and economic benefits such as eco-tourism and is a part of Zambian national identify. Over time however, the wildlife has been exposed to a number of threats, including illegal wildlife trade and poaching.
Whilst wildlife authorities work to protect wildlife from poaching, it is a huge and often under resourced task and support from organisations such as Game Rangers International is essential. Game Rangers International was founded in 2008 with the specific aim of assisting the communities living around the Kafue National Park to better manage the natural resources of the area through support to wildlife management and protection and community outreach and education. According to the organisation’s representative “illegal wildlife trade results in the brutal killing of animals such as elephants, hippos, and buffalo for their ivory and meat. Wildlife is also challenged by human wildlife conflict as human settlements expand into animal ranges. The result is often negative for wildlife through “Problem Animal Control”, unless mitigated by sustainable solutions”.
Sarah Davies from Game Rangers International first became engaged with wildlife issues when she realised that she wanted to work towards sustainable development and protecting the environment. Speaking with Sarah she said “I realised that absolutely every single activity on this planet depends on the environment. Without eco-system services, agricultural, industrial and all other economic sectors would collapse. Without forests, clean water, clean air and intact natural environments the human race will no longer be able to survive on this planet.” Sarah’s commitment to environment stemmed from a realisation that there is no Planet B!
Game Rangers International currently run five projects in Zambia. The elephant orphanage project; the Kafue Conservation; the Muzovo Awareness Project; the community outreach project; and the Kafue Research Project Led by Wildlife Biologist Dr Kerryn Carter. Projects such as these are vital to the survival of the Zambian wildlife, particularly important is also the strong focus on local community involvement.
Community awareness has started to change the way people think about wildlife sustainability. According to Game Rangers International “every day in the field, hundreds of Zambian men and women are conducting anti-poaching patrols in remote areas, risking their lives to protect wildlife threatened with illegal killing. Sometimes they only have minimal equipment and food rations but Game Rangers International have been involved with the fantastic efforts that these dedicated people make. Often confiscating firearms, bushmeat, snares and ivory, anti-poaching teams deter and detect illegal activities in Protected Areas. Many dangerous poachers are behind bars because of their commitment to conservation. Without them and Zambia Wildlife Authority, Zambia’s biodiversity would be wiped out very quickly”.
Programs such as these cannot however be successful without the financial support of backers and the tireless work of volunteers.
If you wish to get involved in this organisation you can do so in a number of ways:
The Lilayi Elephant Nursery is situated 15 mins outside of Lusaka on the Lilayi Lodge Game Park. The nursery is open every day of the year 1130-1300 for visitors to meet the orphaned elephants who are being rehabilitated by the Game Rangers International, Elephant Orphanage Project. You can also find out more about all of the conservation projects here. There is no entrance fee but donations are gratefully received.
Game Rangers International run fostering http://www.gamerangersinternational.org/getinvolved/foster-an-elephant-scheme and adoption http://www.gamerangersinternational.org/getinvolved/adopt-an-elephant-scheme-individuals schemes for the elephants.