Giving practical grassroot support to local people can be key to successful conservation. The Born Free Foundation reports on getting neighbourhoods involved with the wildlife projects next door.
The Born Free Foundation works to safeguard the survival of some of the world’s most iconic, yet threatened, species. Since 2001 their Global Friends programme has supported local schools and communities sharing their habitat with wild animals throughout Africa, and now Sri Lanka.
A key challenge faced by communities near Amboseli National Park in Kenya is soil erosion and localised drought due to over-grazing by livestock. This also impacts on local wildlife, leading to habitat loss and falling numbers of prey species. Global Friends provides educational materials and helps students at Lenkisem Primary School understand these issues. As a result of prey depletion, livestock can be targeted by predators, but Born Free’s ‘lion-proof bomas’ are a simple, cost-effective approach to protecting goats and cattle from predation and preventing retaliatory killings of the lions.
Deforestation and habitat loss, as well as the bushmeat trade, are some of the greatest threats to chimpanzees and other great apes across Africa today. Working with Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Lake Victoria, Uganda, Global Friends helps schools in fishing villages understand the impacts of deforestation and hunting on wild animal populations and has provided schoolrooms, desks and books. Global Friends also provides vital resources to schools and communities in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi and South Africa, encouraging positive action to protect other key species including marine turtles and Ethiopian wolves.
With human populations and agriculture expanding, conflict with people is one of the Asian elephant’s gravest threats. In Sri Lanka 100 elephants are killed every year by farmers defending their crops. But living alongside wild elephants is challenging to local people as well, 50 Sri Lankans are killed by elephants each year. So, while Born Free’s Sri Lanka team works with farmers to promote elephant-resistant cash crops such as ginger and turmeric to reduce crop raiding, Global Friends provides the local school for children from farming families with clean water, electricity and library facilities.