Mar 8, 2019

Here's to 2019!

Riding for Rhinos
Riding for Rhinos

Pedaling Against Poaching finished out 2018 with a strong finish.

I personally completed 5520 miles, and the Pedaling Against Poaching Strava club topped out at over 125,000 miles!

I continue to see a steady organic growth to the number of followers and supporters.

I’m going to make the same commitment for my mileage for 2019. Riding the equivalent to the length of Africa from north to south.

We are starting off the year with some wonderful raffle prizes and local events to raise awareness and hopefully raise some much-needed funds

I plan on continuing to support the Zululand Rhino Orphanage and Transfrontier Africa.

I’m looking forward to an even bigger year in 2019 and am grateful to you for all you have done to make such amazing things happen on behalf of rhinos!

Mar 8, 2019

Children Change Culture

Children change cultures
Children change cultures

Children really can change culture. As anyone who has ever had a child of their own, or has been a very involved aunt or uncle can attest, when the child has an idea or an opinion about which they’re particularly passionate, they will not stop until everyone around them is aware of that. This fervor and determination can change culture, both in the short term and over the long-term.

It is for this reason that our Reducing Demand For Rhino Horn Education Program in the United States has been so effective. In 2018 we reached almost 1000 students, through the assembly and class presentations.

In addition we reached several hundred more students that used our curriculum, one that is constructivist, student lead, and incredibly engaging! Our curricula are standards aligned, and have been adopted by a dozen schools across the country. 

As you know, China and Vietnam are the largest consumers of rhino horn globally. Unfortunately, the United States runs in third place, because of the large number of people from that region that we are fortunate enough to be able to call neighbors and friends in the United States.

It is for this reason that we work with teachers in primarily Asian communities across the United States. If you have friends or neighbors that are teachers and they would be interested in using our curriculum, for having us visit their school, these ask them to reach out to us!

Thank you for all you have done to make our Reducing Demand For Rhino Horn Education Program such a success!

Feb 1, 2019

Why the Mambas are Effective

Children change the world
Children change the world

We have been analyzing and interpreting the data that we collected for the Mambas over the last month, and have some new happy news to report. First, however, we wanted to thank you all for your continued support of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit in South Africa, as all of the money that has been sent along since that time frame has been given directly to them! You are helping to change conservation in Africa in this way!

As long-time donors to this program know, we have been assessing the social impact of the Mamba program on the women who participate, on the people working in support of them, and on the communities where the Mambas live. We are still analyzing the data at present, but our initial results are exceptionally interesting, if a bit disappointing with respect to our main hypothesis.

We had hoped to find that the Mambas have changed their communities with respect to poaching, but that has not been borne out. There were a few interviewees that have been influenced by the Mambas, but over 90% of the 120 people interviewed didn’t even know of the Mambas when asked. Based on follow-up discussions with the Mambas, most do not feel comfortable talking about what they do in their home communities. It is not surprising then, that they are not making the social changes that we had hoped.

That all said, something that was a big surprise for all of us is that nearly all of the people who reported having heard of the Mambas were from one community. Nearly all of the people who live in the Maseke community seemed to not only know the Mambas, but most also said that they were influenced by them to be more supportive of conservation and to strongly condemn poaching. The reason that Maseke was so different from the other three communities we interviewed: children’s education! The Bush Babies Environmental Education program is not only run by a Mamba, but many patrolling Mambas come in full uniform to the classrooms to speak with the children. These children are so impressed, that they go home, tell their parents, and share the message. It was these parents who are most affected by the Mambas. Education can make conservation happen, particularly education of children who can then influence their parents!

Nonetheless, conservation and rural communities can clearly be a match made in heaven. It was clear that people in the communities looked to conservation for jobs, which people shared with us, even when it wasn’t particularly germane to the question. In areas like here where unemployment is over 50%, conservation jobs lead to increased support for conservation.

Another reason for positivity about conservation is that 98% of people interviewed categorically rejected the idea of hunting animals on the reserves, either for money or for food. Most felt deep pride that “our nature” was being preserved and that people were interested in coming so far to see the animals. And, of course, for the jobs.

We interviewed the Transfrontier Africa staff who support the Mamba program. We found that the staff are incredibly proud of the education and outreach work of the Mambas. However, all wanted to improve the early detection and enforcement efforts against poachers on the grounds. To a person, the staff of TA are acutely proud of how the women have transformed as individuals and as environmental leaders.

With respect to the Mambas themselves, our initial results clearly indicate that the program has fundamentally transformed how the Mambas view themselves, as well as what they think women can do for the better. The Mambas are typically the breadwinners in their households. They are the educators and conservation advocates, and they are becoming community leaders. These transformations will eventually change local cultures, even if our surveys revealed that they have not yet. These are Wonder Women come to life.

I am so proud that we are collectively working to support the Mambas. What we are doing will help the Mamba project expand to other locations. If we are able to help establish a chain of Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Units across Africa, it would be a crowning achievement in my several decades of conservation work. Please stay tuned, as we work with our collaborators to make this a reality!

Women really can change the world, and we are going to help them do that in Africa.

Our intrepid interview team
Our intrepid interview team
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