Photo by @roshni.lodhia. it’s an iconic sight in rural africa to see a woman carrying heavy buckets of water on her head. but even when she arrives home and relieves herself of the load, the weight of water remains on her shoulders. this world water day, we’re celebrating the females who are on the front lines of securing water for future generations as access becomes an ever-increasing global challenge. “last season i planted a variety of tomatoes, and people were coming from all different locations just to see them,” shares mercy wangechi. “with the profits i made i bought a car, which is helping me and my husband take tomatoes directly to market. i’m a farmer and a businesswoman!” cheers to you, mercy. head on over to nature.org to meet more inspiring women who are carrying kenya’s water from trees to taps. link in bio.
Photo by @ggkenya. early morning sunshine breaks through the mist, sparkling the blues and greens of forest along the kafue river in zambia’s kafue national park (knp). that morning, a thick fog hugged the river as i climbed along the web of roots of the forest on the river bank to capture the magic, overwhelmed by the immense beauty which i will never forget. climate change has heightened the importance of forests as carbon sinks and zambia is losing its forest faster than any other country in southern africa. established in 1924, knp covers some 2.2 million hectares — about the size of wales or massachusetts — and as one of the world’s largest parks, its vast and varied terrain protects thousands of animal and bird species, not to mention precious and beautiful trees, and provides the vital function of water recharge areas. follow along next week as i take over @nature_africa’s instagram account to share more photos and stories like this one from a recent shoot we did together in zambia.
Sending our deepest condolences with heavy hearts on behalf of the entire nature conservancy family.
#regram from @olpejeta, photo by @andrewhbrown: “it is with great sadness that ol pejeta conservancy and the dvůr králové zoo announce that sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, age 45, died at ol pejeta conservancy in kenya on march 19th, 2018 (yesterday). sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds. his condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal. the veterinary team from the dvůr králové zoo, ol pejeta and kenya wildlife service made the decision to euthanize him.
sudan will be remembered for his unusually memorable life. in the 1970s, he escaped extinction of his kind in the wild when he was moved to dvůr králové zoo. throughout his existence, he significantly contributed to survival of his species as he sired two females. additionally, his genetic material was collected yesterday and provides a hope for future attempts at reproduction of northern white rhinos through advanced cellular technologies. during his final years, sudan came back to africa and stole the heart of many with his dignity and strength. ‘we on ol pejeta are all saddened by sudan’s death. he was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally of the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unsustainable human activity. one day, his demise will hopefully be seen as a seminal moment for conservationists world wide,’ said richard vigne, ol pejeta’s ceo.
unfortunately, sudan’s death leaves just two female northern white rhinos on the planet; his daughter najin and her daughter fatu, who remain at ol pejeta. the only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (ivf) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino s***n from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.”
Photo by @roshni.lodhia. meet leah orwangas. she is a widow and grandmother of 21 grandchildren. like many maasai women, leah wasn’t aware of her land rights. so after her husband died, another man tried to take away her land. but with counsel from the ujamaa community resource team, a founding partner of the northern tanzania rangelands initiative, leah learned about her land rights and fought back. now, she is helping educate other women about their rights. this international women’s day, please join us in celebrating leah: bit.ly/save-planet-empower-women (link in bio)
Photo by @tessrg14. when you think of africa, one of the first things that probably pops into your mind is the mighty lion. but lions are facing dire straits and have disappeared from over 90 percent of the wild lands they once roamed. a few of our teammates were recently meeting at @lewa_wildlife and had heard that there was a pride of lions out and about. we had to see them. after off-roading for a bit, our safari guide festus spotted the pride. he drove up close to them, turned off the land cruiser, and told us all to relax and enjoy. a lioness was basking in the sunshine with her cubs. they were beautiful. one of the cubs must have been feeling extra curious because he carefully snuck away from his brothers and sisters and walked toward us while mom was dozing off. he climbed up onto a tree about a meter or two away. our hearts were racing. mom woke up, noticed that one of her little ones had gone for an adventure, and was too close to us for comfort. she let out a call for her cub and when he didn’t come back to her, she walked right up past us, pulled her baby out of the tree by the scruff of his neck, and gave him a quick reprimanding followed by some love. these intimate moments remind us why we give it our all every day to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. in honor of @worldwildlifeday, the un is asking everyone around the globe to do one thing to help protect these magnificent creatures. what will you do?
Get well soon, sudan. we’ll be thinking of you, your wonderful caretakers, and our friends at @olpejeta. ❤️ regram from @olpejeta: “northern white rhino update - sudan's health declining
so many people have supported the northern white rhinos since they arrived on ol pejeta in 2009, and we feel it is important to inform you that sudan, the last male northern white rhino on the planet, is starting to show signs of ailing. at the advanced age of 45, his health has begun deteriorating, and his future is not looking bright.
at the end of the 2017, sudan developed an uncomfortable age related infection on his back right leg. it was immediately assessed by a team of vets from around the world, and responded well to treatment, healing quickly. he resumed normal movement and foraging habits over january up to mid-february, with his demeanour and general activity improving significantly.
recently, a secondary and much deeper infection was discovered beneath the initial one. this has been treated, but worryingly, the infection is taking longer to recover, despite the best efforts of his team of vets who are giving him 24 hour care, with everything possible being done to help him regain his health.
we are very concerned about him - he's extremely old for a rhino and we do not want him to suffer unnecessarily.
we will keep you updated on all developments. please keep him in your thoughts.”
Photo by @amivitale. wood fuel is one of africa’s most significant environmental and health threats, but the level of public discourse on the issue doesn’t often reflect the size of the challenge. to try and tackle this, we’re drawing out a roadmap for the future of africa’s sustainable wood fuel consumption that includes planting billions of new trees and supporting innovative ways to convert wood into energy more efficiently. as africa’s population, industry, and infrastructure continue to grow, ensuring communities have the knowledge and tools to balance the well-being of their families with sustainable livelihoods and abundant natural resources will become increasingly critical. if we can empower women to plant trees in the corners of their farms and use wood fuel more efficiently, we can enable local people to tackle one of africa’s biggest health and environmental challenges in simple, meaningful ways. click the link in our bio for more.
Photo by @jasonbhouston. amazing news! seychelles has just announced two new marine protected areas covering 210,000 square kilometers of biodiverse ocean waters – that’s a massive amount of ocean! and this is just the first half of all waters that they plan to protect by 2022. this small island nation sits off the coast of east africa and is a stunning ecological paradise, where you’ll find curious sea turtles, giant tortoises, and bleach-white fairy terns. but, as the world changes, so too will the challenges faced by its endangered and endemic species, as well as the country’s 100,000 residents who depend on their marine resources. congrats to the citizens of seychelles for making this big and bold step forward to protect this incredibly beautiful place. it’s wonderful to see this conservation commitment coming to life.
Photo by @amivitale. our close partner @nrt_kenya’s @beadworkskenya program has 150 “star beaders” that are leading the way for over 1,350 women to use their traditional beadcraft to enhance their families’ lives, lessen their reliance on the land for income, and protect local habitats and wildlife, including elephants, rhino, lions, giraffe, grevy’s zebra, buffalo, and more. each “star beader” mentors and manages 10 other women, increasing their skills and helping them earn money to improve family nutrition and access to clean water, send their children to school, and pay for medical expenses. now these women would like to take their enterprise to the next level by creating more complicated designs and even finer products. and you can help! $100 funds three new “star beader” positions, which sets the stage for the employment of 30 additional women. only $1,000 left to reach their goal! let’s make this happen. link in bio. ✨
Photo by maggy meyer. “most of tanzania has been experiencing drought for the last year, and a lot of livestock have been dying. on a recent drive from arusha to randilen community wildlife management area (cwma), i saw many cattle carcasses near the road. other cows were still alive but were struggling to even stand on their feet. but as i entered randilen i saw hundreds of healthy cattle. they were feeding in a large area of good grass that was preserved to use in times of drought. i immediately began to worry that all this pasture would be quickly depleted by a massive influx of cattle and there would be nothing left for the wildlife. but a village scout calmly told me: ‘we have plenty of grass that can rescue the cattle and still support wildlife. in fact, we are even hosting cattle from far away villages that are not part of our community.’ during my day of meetings with community leaders, the rains poured heavily. after the rain ended, i began my journey home and was shocked to see the big herd of livestock exiting randilen. the rain signaled to the herders that there would now be pasture in other places, so they left randilen’s extreme drought refuge. if we can scale this behavior — if every community has a working ‘extreme drought’ grazing area — then we will build resilient livestock and wildlife populations in northern tanzania. i think that this is possible.” @marundaalphonce, tnc africa
Photo by @roshni.lodhia. home. everyone in northern tanzania defines it differently. for nomadic tribes, it refers to wherever pasture is greenest or fruit is ripest. for a herd of elephants, it is the ancient migration routes that cross village, county, and national borders — led by a matriarch and followed for generations. here, home isn’t so much a place as a journey. and now, the 8-million-acre landscape that has hosted these journeys for hundreds of years is becoming a jigsaw puzzle. climate change, rapidly expanding row-crop agriculture, and population growth are shaping the pieces. at the same time, tanzania’s economic development depends on managing this landscape so that natural resources can continue to provide food and job security. the survival of elephants and traditional ways of life for indigenous people rests on ensuring they also have a say in this design. no single village — or organization — can tackle this alone. that is why we collaborate with nine partners in the northern tanzania rangelands initiative (ntri) to help communities secure tenure over their traditional lands and apply good land management practices that benefit themselves and wildlife. just as each puzzle piece in the landscape is unique, so is the land tenure or resource rights solution that works best for each community. communities now have new tools, such as communal certificates of customary rights of occupancy (ccros) and other innovative schemes that can address their specific needs and challenges. together, we are ensuring that indigenous communities have the knowledge, technical support, incentives, and legal frameworks they need to keep their journeys alive.
Photos by @jasonbhouston. the local person leading our work in seychelles is soft-spoken marine biologist helena sims. “this is what i’ve always wanted to do since i was 6 years old. my dad was a marine engineer, and he also built his own boats. on weekends we would go fishing and sailing. my first dive was on my 10th birthday, the minimum age to scuba. i went into a cave and there were sea fans everywhere. they look like bouquets of flowers — orange, red, and white. i was gobsmacked. i wanted to study marine biology in university but at that time, the government’s priorities for full scholarships were teaching or medicine. i had to make a case that this should be just as much a priority. they said yes but only if i earned perfect scores on the cambridge international exams. i spent ages 16-17 preparing. i wanted it so badly. you have to wait four months to get your test results! my dad was the one to open the envelope. i was at sea on a study tour. he just said, ‘you did it!’ and i started crying. i studied in australia and came straight home once i graduated. i was recruited by @undp to conduct research to set priorities for the expansion of the marine protected area system of seychelles. at first i didn’t want to take on such a big job because my son had just been born and my father was very sick. he told me to go for it. it was his dream job and he was my idol. i did it for him. some of our stakeholders have known me my whole life. they say, ‘oh, helena — she wants to save everything.’ but the zoning design has to work for everyone, and that’s what tnc is committed to. as often as possible i go fishing and snorkeling with my son, kyan. [his name is derived from a word for the blue-green color of nearshore waters.] i’m looking forward to telling him stories about his grandfather. he can’t understand yet. he’s autistic and nonverbal, but he has an infinite love for the ocean. often when he was a baby, the only way to calm him down was to put him in a bucket of water! for all seychellois, the sea is within us. it’s not only in our blood; it’s our life.” 💙
Photo by @ggkenya. nothing like a hopeful story to help kick off the new year. ✨ when the wildlife vet was unable to attend to a badly injured lioness, kaindu village scouts took matters into their own hands. what this injured lioness did was almost as remarkable as the village scouts’ actions to save her because moving towards human activity goes against every instinct of a weak or vulnerable wild animal. so it’s as if she knew that crawling into the scouts’ camp was her last chance of help. the lioness had lost her front right paw to a poacher’s snare. once free, she was unable to hunt, desperately thin, and battling infection. by chance, or some sixth sense humans might never understand, she sought refuge in the base camp of the scouts who protect and monitor wildlife in the 15,000-hectare kaindu game management area (gma) on the north-eastern flank of zambia’s kafue national park. “when we first came across her, she was finished. it was very sad,” says greenwell kabinda of kafue natural resources trust. “we felt like we had to help her.” realizing straight away that she needed veterinary treatment, greenwell, or “green” as he’s known, called the zambian department for parks and wildlife. however, with limited resources and vast areas of ground to cover, their vet was unable to come immediately. with nothing to lose, the scouts set about finding her some meat, which they placed near her, in front of a motion-sensor camera in order to keep a watchful eye. “she was very weak, so that first night she only took a few bites,” says green. “but within a few days the whole carcass had gone.” the food gave her the strength to eventually go to the river for life-saving hydration. soon, a hopeful moment was caught on camera: she was joined by another lioness, an adolescent cub, and a large male — presumably members of her lost pride, attracted by the smell of her dinner. to survive long-term in the wild, she will need her pride to defend her and to share the prey they catch.
Photo by @amivitale. hi friends, we have three rescue stories to help warm your hearts for the holidays. wild elephants in africa have complicated lives. these three recent rescues illustrate different pieces of the big, complex picture of elephant conservation — beyond poaching. the stories show why we’re so focused on habitat protection and on creating conservation incentives for people who live among elephants. we hope you’ll take a moment now to read about these rescues that you helped make possible. and most importantly, thank you for supporting our efforts to keep elephants out of trouble. read the stories: bit.ly/savespaceforelephants (link in bio). 🐘❤️