As you can see, we have a theme here, and it is based on regular updates, dispatches from Africa, and the things that have inspired us at Great Plains.
It is about Keeping this Dream Alive, and this week I’d like to tell you about our findings investigating wildlife crime and trafficking, something we took on under the Project Ranger banner seven months ago. With a top-level scientific and conservation group, we’ve been consulting with experts from each region. Our eyes have been thoroughly opened!
Over the past few months, our investigations have started to reveal trends.
Very few, if any, countries have been unaffected by the pandemic! It has, of course, added pressure on wildlife conservation everywhere, as more and more people are pushed into financial difficulties. Simultaneously, so many people don’t know what is wrong and what is right. Those who don’t need to turn to the bush to survive know that it is bad to poach and trade in rhino horn but do it anyway for pure financial gain.
This combination of Necessity, Ignorance, and Greed is the perfect storm that collapses nature. But it also collapses so much else: our spiritual, mental, and physical well-being. It erodes our dreams.
Our job at Great Plains, in collaboration with all our partners, including you, is to erode all of these wants, uplift those in a poor state, and reduce that necessity. To educate in general and specifically on the value of nature to all of us and point out, even call out, greed when we come across it.
This is a turning point for us, one where we can emerge much better versions of ourselves, or sit back and watch as this mad world becomes less environmentally sensitive.
Our film editors put this short piece together while we were away in the field, and it is a prophecy of the world I wake up determined to see avoided.
Project Ranger is one way for us to do what we can to plot a different course. So far, we have funded nearly 200 rangers across 7 countries. Our investigations show that there is hope if we can strategically fund small ranger groups from existing teams.
They also show practically how in one Tanzanian case where we helped fund one team to come back on duty, that within days, they had apprehended giraffe poachers. In another case, pangolin poachers and the smuggling of live animals were stopped by associates of ours.
If we are going to Keep this Dream Alive, it will be by doing two things:
a) Looking at the actions we can take today, right now, to preserve what we can. Keeping rangers in place is critical, and
b) looking to the horizon, including our partner communities in the discussions about conservation, and gently uplifting people, educating children, and particularly women. Ultimately giving everyone a second chance.
That is our future.