South Africa is home to the world's most abundant wildlife, yet 99% of local people will never have the opportunity to witness it. #kevinandthekids is a campaign to help the big dreams of small become real, as children from impoverished backgrounds get the opportunity to go on safari! The project aims to foster a love and respect for wildlife in the hearts of those living in communities on the fringes of wildlife reserves, helping to prevent them from engaging in a future of poaching.
The socio-economic inequality in South Africa shows up most starkly for those living on the outskirts of game reserves. Most surrounding communities live at a subsistence level whilst foreigners enjoy luxury safari experiences around them. This gap in access to such experiences results in community members lacking exposure to wildlife, and the value and role it can play in providing job opportunities and enriching lives. This gap is what often leads to poaching and human-wildlife conflict.
This project tackles a complex issue at its root by starting with the youth. If the leaders of tomorrow are inspired to value wildlife at a young age - not just for its beauty, but for the opportunities it can bring - then they will campaign for its protection. This project builds on our existing in-classroom and feeding programs. It is well known that children often return home and share what they have learnt with their parents, so the message reaches both adults and the youth.
By bringing children into the game reserve and wildlife sanctuary, they are given the chance to observe and appreciate wildlife from a sense of wonder. This incredible experience will plant a seed early on, which we aspire to nurture as they grow up, raising a future generation that can spread awareness and education on the benefits of protecting wildlife. This is the long-term solution to sustained conservation efforts and mitigating human-wildlife conflict.