“I’ve dedicated my life to protecting lions. And I know my neighbour would, too, if only they knew the animals that lived next door to them”.
Moreangels Mbizah, founder of Wildlife Conservation Action
Imagine our wildlife roaming their natural habitat, protected only by people. This is Haraka’s dream, and the pillar of community conservation.
We all know the story of Cecil the Lion who was tragically killed by a trophy hunter in July 2015. Scientists at Oxford University who had been studying Cecil were devastated. It was reported by National Geographic in 2018 that at the time of his death, Cecil was still wearing his GPS collar. Shockingly, Cecil’s story is not isolated. National Geographic’s article further reported that including Cecil, 42 collared male study lions had been trophy-hunted since 1999.
Lion conservationist Moreangels Mbizah who had similarly studied Cecil in the Hwange National Park for 3 years till his death, said in an inspirational talk on TED (2019) that Cecil’s story has brought the plight of wildlife to the world’s attention, changing the narrative on their conservation. Mbizah, founder of Wildlife Conservation Action, promotes human-wildlife co-existence for their successful conservation. And her question, “What if the community that lived next to Cecil was involved in protecting him?” is exactly the right question.
The communities that live side by side with Africa’s wildlife are most affected by their rapid disappearance. If communities are empowered to be at the forefront of conservation of their heritage instead of being disconnected from it by never being given the opportunity of interacting with the animals they share their home with, less intervention from foreign organisations will be necessary.
Community conservation is at the heart of Haraka’s journey to end poaching and the illegal trade of Africa’s wildlife by empowering and uplifting local communities. With environmental education, skills development and school programs that show children the beauty of their heritage, conservation efforts will flourish.
See Mbizah’s full talk