What We Do
We are a team of experienced conservationists, who get our hands dirty, working in the field, to save endangered and threatened species. We are a small, but efficient team who stretch every cent to make sure it is utilized in meaningful conservation operations.
Our main focus is on the critically endangered Black Rhino and Painted Dog populations, as well as the threatened Cheetah and Vulture populations in Southern Africa. We understand, however, the impact of other ecologically important species including Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Hyena on these populations and, therefore, ensure that we do not ignore them in the work that we do. We do so by focusing on:
- Finding and funding the right equipment needed to effectively monitor endangered and threatened species
- Delivering time and expertise to provide adequate management, capture, transport and reintroduction of these animals to new areas
- Implementing anti-poaching measures and technology in the field
- Helping rural communities who live alongside protected wildlife areas to develop a love and respect for nature, provide them with reasons to protect it, and advance economic empowerment.
We work closely with other conservation organisations including:
Life Saving Equipment
To track animal like Cheetah, African Painted Dog and Leopard, various forms of tracking collars are used. These include the latest location transmitters, using either VHF radio technology or GPS devices transmitted via cellular networks or satellite. This equipment makes it possible to monitor these animals daily, which means that if they are injured, sick, trapped in a poacher's snare, or have escaped out of a reserve, help is not far away. A valuable spin off of this is the data, which is available for important research on animal movement patterns, population demographics and inter-species interactions, all of which helps with the future conservation of these species.
Implementing technology in the fight against Poaching
The Fund is also helping to develop and test anti-poaching collars with reinforced plates and special rivets to prevent animals like Cheetah, Leopards or Painted Dogs from choking when caught in a poacher's snare. The collar can then detect that the animal is stationary or separated from the rest of the pack and sends out an emergency signal — this means that a collar can literally save an animal's life!
As poachers become more and more sophisticated, conservationists are looking at new technologies to fight the war against poaching. An example of this is the 'state of the art' anti-poaching transmitter technology, which Wildlife ACT Fund has helped to identify and recently test in the field. These sophisticated transmitters send real-time info to monitors about the movements of the animal and its exact location. When fitted in a rhino horn for example, the movement sensor triggers an alarm when the rhino is in distress, and also promises to detect when its horn is being hacked off - this provides the opportunity to catch the perpetrators in the act, and in the case of animals caught in a snare, for the snare to be removed before they die. The Fund will continue to help with further development and testing following the promising initial results.
Reintroduction of Endangered Species:
Key to the survival of our endangered species is ensuring that they are reintroduced to protected areas where they can safely roam and strengthen in number. The Wildlife ACT Fund specialises in the safe capture, transportation and reintroduction of these endangered species into new areas.
Over the past 2 years for example, the Wildlife ACT Fund has assisted with the reintroduction of 45 African Painted Dogs in South Africa — that is an estimated 10% of South Africa's total Painted Dog population. We've also successfully captured over 30 Dogs that escaped from their protected areas. With sufficient funding, the Wildlife ACT Fund aims to set up a rapid response unit that can capture dispursing animals and respond to poaching emergencies.
Another example is the Fund's involvement in the reintroduction of over 60 endangered Black Rhino in the past 2 years alone. The fund specializes in implementing tracking devises on the rhino's during the relocation process, which then enables us to closely monitor these ancient animals to ensure their safety.
Shooting Animals to save them
Another great example of how to monitor endangered animals is to use remote activated camera traps. The "shots" provide monitors and researchers with fantastic information, allowing them to assess the status of endangered and threatened species on a reserve, and to help develop management interventions.
As an example, here is the first-ever record of the cubs from a very shy female Cheetah (she had not been seen for 6 months!) on a game reserve in South Africa. No one knew that she had cubs or whether she was still alive until these photographs captured her and her cubs at a waterhole at 2am!
Above right is another example of how remote camera trapping can benefit endangered species conservation. By capturing images of the Black Rhino (on an undisclosed reserve), it was possible to establish how many rhinos there are on the reserve and create accurate identity kits of the individuals. Without this information it is almost impossible to create effective conservation management programs to ensure the continued survival of these species.
Community Conservation Project
All too often, communities that live around reserves are ostracized from conservation areas. Also, when rural communities are not helped to sustain themselves, or given adequate conservation education, we cannot expect these communities to do anything, but look to the protected areas for resources as means of survival. The Wildlife ACT Fund has initiated a Community Conservation Project to help address these issues.
In-School conservation lessons:
The Wildlife ACT Fund's Community Conservation Liaisons are working with primary schools within the Gumbi Community in Zululand, where they teach conservation lessons. The lessons are conducted throughout the school year, during school hours, as part of students' regular education. Students are given lessons in wildlife identification and ecology, understanding ecological relationships, the importance of preserving biodiversity, conservation issues associated with snare hunting, and shown conservation films and nature documentaries.
Kid's Bush Camp Program:
At least once a hear, all grade six students from five Gumbi Community schools attend a free-of-charge, four-day conservation education camp at an existing facility within Somkhanda Game Reserve, where a former hunting camp has been refurbished for this purpose. Wildlife ACT Fund hopes to expand the program to more primary schools as funding becomes available. The program emphasizes hands-on child-centred discovery activities to teach students conservation concepts. The program is designed to instill a passion for nature conservation in young people.
Adult Conservation Seminars:
The Community Conservation Liaison also consults with village heads to arrange opportunities to interact directly with the members in the community. The seminars are used as a means to investigate the community member's own perspectives on the economic development and food security needs of each village. These seminars also include presentations about the purpose and importance of nature conservation in their area. Using information and feedback from interactions, Wildlife ACT Fund carefuly investigates the feasibility of different community development options for the purpose of alleviating some of the economic and food security issues, especially those driving the bush meat trade and other unsustainable uses of natural resources in the area.
The animals we help to save:
Est. Population: 4180
Status: Critically endangered
More info: http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/6557/0
African Painted Dog:
Est. Population: 3000 to 5000
More info: http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/12436/0
Est. Population: 7000 to 10000
More info: http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/219/0
Vultures: Lappet-faced and White-headed
Est. Population White-headed: 7000 to 12500
Est Population Lappet faced: > 8000
More info: http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/144356/0
We also help with the conservation of other specties including: