The Wild Lion Trust in association with the As Wild As UK, Wild Tomorrow Fund and Wildlife Act Fund Trust were proud to be part of a small but impactful project for Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife in Tembe Elephant Park, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The merciless poaching of rhinos around South Africa has hit the headlines worldwide, the truth is rhinos would probably be long gone if it wasn’t for the tireless and selfless dedication of a handful of people who fight this scourge on a daily basis. Part of this group of real-life heroes are the field rangers and anti-poaching units based in each park.
The Tembe field rangers and anti-poaching unit all come from the local community and most have spent their lives in the bush. As Wild As UK along with the above likeminded organisations, came up with a project to give back to these hard working soldiers on the frontline. The idea was to supply the best field guides covering all subjects from Trees and Grasses to Birds, Reptiles and mammals. When the field rangers return to camp after their daily patrols – they can now page through these books to up-skill and improve their knowledge and solve those anomalies of the day’s work. Zulu and Tsonga people traditionally are a verbal people – their knowledge and understanding is passed on via stories and discussion – and book learning is traditionally unnatural to particularly the older generations. Many of the younger brigades are also studying at universities or technical colleges as they start their careers in wildlife. By supplying these books, they now have access to materials to help with assignments as well as improve in-the-field knowhow. The older rangers can pass on the knowledge acquired over time, and the younger guys can share what they learn from books and debates and growth become part of the daily routine.
In achieving our aim to get a set of books for each of the 6 ranger camps and 1 anti-poaching camp, we needed our own hero. Up stepped Stephen Hughes from the UK who was working as a volunteer with Wildlife ACT and raised the necessary funds for the project that touched his heart. Sets of 6 books covering all major wildlife topics, and with wonderful illustrations, were supplied to each camp. A big thank you too all those involved and particularly to Stephen Hughes for his selfless support.
Richard Schütte perusing (Left).Richard Schütte (Ezemvelo), Stephen Hughes, Sergeant Tembe (Ezemvelo), and Clinton Wright (Wildlife ACT and the Wild Lion Trust (middle picture) A selection of the donated books (far right).