MWITU’S MEMO

Well, here we are. My last note to you for 2017! I’ve loved sharing all our news with you this year, and can’t wait to carry on in 2018. I hope you have enjoyed reading about what the EWT pack has been up to as much as I have enjoyed putting these snippets together. Of course, your feedback is always welcome and can be mailed to Mwitu@ewt.org.za.
 
Speaking of feedback, do you receive our bi-monthly printed magazine, Conservation Matters? If so, we’d love to get your input on what you think is working, and what we could be doing better. Please take a few moments to fill in this survey so that we can offer you an even better reading experience! We’ll randomly select one respondent to win a hamper of EWT goodies.
If you don’t receive Conservation Matters and you’d like to, please send a mail to Mwitu@ewt.org.za and we’ll send you a subscription form.

As the year draws to a close, I’d also like to thank you for the incredible dedication you have shown to the work of the EWT – we would not be able to accomplish anything without our wonderful supporters. I hope that you have a restful holiday season, however you celebrate, and look forward to bringing you our next round of news in January 2018!
 
‘Til next time
Mwitu


A WORD FROM THE CEO

Regardless of culture, race, religion or nationality, December is usually a time of reflection and some sort of ‘down time’ in most societies. Be it to celebrate any one of the approximately 14 religious holidays celebrated globally this month, or to just spend time away from work, at home or away, with family, friends or alone. Taking full advantage of this holiday period, adverts for entertainment options are plenty and a few nights back my attention was grabbed by a promotional tagline for a film (I cannot recall which one) that said “Find out what is means to be human this holiday.” This intrigued me. I can only imagine what the film must be about (aliens, bots, sci-fi, comedy?) but that wasn’t the point. It got me thinking. We are always on a quest to find the meaning of life, the meaning of our life, purpose and so on. It’s why we have families and aim to have careers that satisfy us and build up trust funds and leave legacies. It’s why humans are continually on a pathway towards self-development and societal growth. Even Mark Twain said it when he suggested that “the two most important days in your life are when you are born and when you find out why.”
 
But this question is far bigger than that. It does not ask about the meaning of our individual lives or why we were born. Or even what we, with our one life, can do whilst on earth. It asks what it means to be HUMAN. The race, the species, the whole point of ever having had homo sapiens exist on the planet. Wow, BIG question indeed, but I don’t believe it cannot be asked and should not be asked (albeit it not to promote bad films). The things we justify in our everyday lives, such as the need to make money (and lots of it), the need for development and technology and science and innovation; the reasons why countries and religions go to war and the reasons why we hang onto ideological positions and philosophical differences; why we justify human dominion over all other species and our right to use, abuse, consume and alter all other species and systems to meet our own needs. All of this comes under a new perspective when the context is no longer the finite lifespan of one person, their family or even their society, compared with the next one. Outside of the evolutionary scale of just homo sapiens, and the rapidly developing artificial world in which we increasingly live, what does it really mean to be the human race? To the animals and plants around us and to the planet on which we all depend for life?  Now and into the future? What is our greater responsibility and purpose (do we have one?) and how should our relationship with other species be understood and determined in this context? What will we leave behind one day, for those that are non-human and does this even matter when we are all gone?
 
I would like to believe that being human is more than just having the right to use, own and modify everything. That it is also to understand, learn from and be of benefit to others, human or otherwise. To be part of an evolving world and not the sole driver of its need to adapt or die. To be human is to be accountable and responsible for the rights we have and the impact we deliver – it is to add and not subtract. Naturally, we will all have different answers to this question and that’s what makes for interesting – if possibly heated – holiday discussions around the braai or at the poolside. Whatever the outcome, it is important that we ask this question and reflect on what role we each play in being a human being, and not just of a colour or religion. This December, let us remember that we are ALL in fact humans, one species, with one future.
 
Whatever your holiday destination or festive celebration, from all of us at the EWT we wish you peace, safety and much joy this December. Please look around you and take note of the beauty of our extraordinary planet this holiday: in the brilliant sunsets, idyllic beaches, lazy summer afternoons, glorious summer dawns, in the sounds of birds calling and in the magic of the bushveld, from the tops of the mountains to the colourful spectacles of the waterworld; in the wildlife you encounter and in our family and friends. We have much to love and even more to protect.
 
PS. What does it mean to us at the EWT you may ask?
 
Saving Wildlife, Saving Us.”
 
‘Til 2018, Yolan
 

 

PROJECT NEWS

Owl-inspired wisdom solves mystery

Belinda Glenn, Marketing and Communications Manager
BelindaG@ewt.org.za

A conservation superhero has turned crime fighter, as the special owls he saves have led the way to a nest of stolen vehicles.
 
Early on Tuesday morning, 5 December, the manager of the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) Birds of Prey Programme, Dr Gareth Tate saw that, as usual, his Ford Ranger stood safely in the driveway. Moments later, when he looked again, there was only empty space where his Ranger once stood. A trusted companion in the field for many years, the vehicle had been sponsored by the Ford Wildlife Foundation, and Gareth’s work would be crippled without it. He immediately called the police and the vehicle tracking company, Netstar, and notified the security company that guards the street......READ MORE


 

An innovative approach to rhino conservation


Sya van der Walt-Potgieter; Rhino Connect Director: Media and Marketing
sya@rhinoconnect.co.za
 
Two South African companies, TWK Agri and Rhino Connect, are inviting individuals and companies to invest in rhinos this festive season by buying a rhino for Christmas. They have recently made history by launching the world’s first insurance fund for rhinos. They introduced the new project together with an app, another world first.

Andries Potgieter, Rhino Connect Director for Business, says: “The app is the first of its kind in the world and an information hub about rhino matters, which you will not be able to find anywhere else. The app connects the world with local wildlife and their habitats to promote a harmonious and enriched relationship between communities and the nature surrounding them. Now we are challenging companies and individuals to spend money on a rhino for Christmas instead of expensive office parties.”.....READ MORE

 

Patron Supporters
(R250,000 and above per annum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Wakeman Henderson Charitable Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving one crane at a time…


Tanya Smith, Southern Africa Regional Manager, African Crane Conservation Programme
TanyaS@ewt.org.za

Recently, our field staff were alerted to a runaway fire in the Southern Drakensberg by a concerned farmer. The reason for the concern? There is a breeding pair of Wattled Cranes on the farm, we all knew there was a tiny chick only a few days old with the pair, and their nest site was in the direct line of the fire! Without hesitation our African Crane Conservation Programme field officer, Janine Rennie, went out to the farm and witnessed the adult birds frantically flapping their wings, trying to keep the smoke away from their chick.

She quickly offloaded a canoe and made her way across the dam to the wetland where the birds were seen. After the adults flew off, Janine very smartly mimicked the crane contact call in the hope that the crane chick would call back, thus revealing its hiding spot. It called back! With the fire less than 10 m from the chick’s hiding spot, Janine scooped the chick up into the boat and paddled it to safety on the other side of the dam, near its parents. Thanks to her quick thinking and our work with farmers and communities to protect cranes in the southern Drakensberg, we are sure we are contributing to an increasing population of South Africa’s Critically Endangered Wattled Cranes.
 

 

We’re sending out a vulture SOS…save our scavengers!


Belinda Glenn, Marketing and Communications Manager
BelindaG@ewt.org.za

In the last issue of ChitterChatter, we introduced you to Ofentse, a juvenile White-headed Vulture that was found grounded on the Mjejane Private Nature Reserve, bordering the southern Kruger National Park. Ofentse was a victim of poisoning, and only the quick actions of the team and our partners at the State Vet and Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre saved his life. After two months of rehabilitation, Ofentse took to the skies again. This is a great example of how rapid response and treatment of poisoning victims can make all the difference, especially with regards to Critically Endangered species such as the White-headed Vulture, where every individual counts.

It takes blood, sweat, tears and money to get injured or poisoned birds back into the air. On average, it costs about R5,000 per vulture and around 6-8 weeks of special care and rehab, before they are able to take to the sky.

With this in mind, we set up a vulture emergency fund, to cover the costs of the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ailing birds. Every single bird counts: every individual rescued and released has the potential to breed and thrive again. We are hoping to raise the funds to give every sick and injured vulture a fighting chance, and ensure that each bird receives the best care necessary for survival. Extraordinary care for an extraordinary species.

We are unbelievably grateful to those of you who have already made a donation towards this fund. Every amount we receive makes a difference! We are also happy to share the news with you that in late November, we were able to release a second White-headed Vulture that fell prey to poisoning in the southern Lowveld earlier this year. This sub-adult female was grounded after seemingly feeding on poisoned doves, and, like Ofentse, was treated at the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre. She was released near the SA Wildlife College, and early indications are that she is doing well.

If you would like to make a difference in the life of a vulture, please make a donation using the words “Vulture SOS”. Large or small, your contribution will go directly to the rescue, feeding, rehabilitation and release of some of Africa’s most endangered animals.
 

 

Conservation Week 2017


Belinda Glenn, Marketing and Communications Manager
BelindaG@ewt.org.za

The first week of December saw EWT staff gathering for a few days in Parys, during our annual Conservation Week. This affords team members, who for most of the year are based throughout South Africa and beyond, the valuable opportunity to learn more about each other’s work and engage in practical training activities. Practical training sessions included fish surveys, mist netting, and reptile and insect sampling. Staff also received training on disability sensitivity, while managers attended leadership training, and the organisation’s strategy for 2018-2023 was presented and refined. The team was also invited to reflect extensively on how we can more effectively ‘walk the talk’ as an organisation and in our personal lives, which resulted in a lot of lively discussion around consumerism, use of single use plastics, and the like. What remains clear is that the EWT is made up of a group of passionate individuals, committed to making a difference to the world we live in.

 The EWT’s annual awards, where team members are recognised for their achievements during the year, were also held during this time. The winners were:

  • Programme of the Year: African Crane Conservation Programme
  • Programme Manager of the Year: Cobus Theron (Drylands Conservation Programme)
  • Conservation Achiever: Grant Beverley (Senior Field Worker, Carnivore Conservation Programme)
  • Conservation Supporter:  Rugare Nyamhunga (Information and Compliance Officer) and Ayanda Sibiya (Accountant)
  • Anatolian Award (Conflict resolution): Samson Phakathi (Senior Field Officer, Threatened Grassland Species Programme)
  • Honey Badger Award (Fiercest field officer): Emily Taylor (Coordinator, Urban Conservation and Gauteng Biodiversity Stewardship)
  • Outstanding Media Presence: Wildlife in Trade Programme
  • The Giant Inside Award (Self-improvement): Frank Jackson (Business Development Officer), who is completing an MBA
  • New Kids on the Block: Innocent Buthelezi (Field Officer, Wildlife and Roads Project) and Oldrich van Schalkwyk (Soutpansberg Protected Area Manager)
  • Pawprint Brand Ambassador Award: Esther Matthew (Field Officer, Drylands Conservation Programme)
  • Special Acknowledgement: Ashleigh Dore (Attorney [non-practising] and Training Coordinator, Wildlife in Trade Programme)
  • Long Service Awards – 10 years: Precious Morgan (Receptionist), Tanya Smith (Southern Africa Regional Manager, African Crane Conservation Programme) and Marion Burger (Senior Graphic Designer)

Conservation Week 2017 was a great success, and would not have been possible without the generous support of ABI and Painted Wolf Wines, who supplied all the beverages, and Trappers, who supplied all the prizes for our annual awards. Thank you!

 

The Knysna Estuary - after the fires


Grant Smith, Estuary Projects Coordinator, Source to Sea Programme, and Bridget Jonker, Programme Manager, Source to Sea Programme
GrantS@ewt.org.za and BridgetC@ewt.org.za

Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. They are formed where river meets ocean; fresh and salt water mix to form a unique habitat rich in nutrients and generally warmer than the open sea. They are also usually devoid of large predators making them ideal nursery environments for the young of many marine species. Adults breed in the open ocean after which the young retreat into the warmer, more sheltered and productive estuarine waters to grow until they are ready to graduate into the deeper and harsher ocean environment. About 100 species of South African marine organisms including prawns, crabs, and fishes utilise estuaries in this way, while approximately another 400 species migrate in and out of our estuaries at some time during their lives.

The Knysna Estuary is situated in Knysna on the Western Cape’s south coast, between the towns of George and Plettenberg Bay. Due to biodiversity importance, habitat importance, zonal type, rarity and size, the Knysna Estuary has been classified as the most important Estuarine System in South Africa. The Knysna estuary supports South Africa’s largest seagrass population, dominated by Cape Dwarf-eelgrass which is listed as globally Vulnerable to extinction. The eelgrass provides critical habitat for a myriad aquatic animals including the Endangered Knysna Seahorse, the Critically Endangered Pulmonate/False Limpet, the nationally protected Pansy Shell and the rare Knysna Sandgoby. Species such as the Endangered Knysna Leaf-folding Frog, the Endangered Brenton Blue Butterfly and the Knysna Dwarf Chameleon inhabit a range of local habitats, the majority of which are also Endangered.....READ MORE

This project is a partnership between the EWT and the Knysna Basin Project and is being supported by Ryobi and Nedbank.
 

 

Sea lettuce smothering Cape dwarf eelgrass

 

A ‘Bioblitz’ in Adams Mission


Cherise Acker, Senior Field Officer, Threatened Amphibian Programme
CheriseA@ewt.org.za

Adams Mission is a tribal community just inland of Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu-Natal, and boasts two threatened ecosystems, namely coastal wetlands and swamp forests, which are relatively intact and which are home to a vast array of flora and fauna. Of particular interest to the Threatened Amphibian Programme is the Endangered Pickersgill’s Reed Frog, which has been found in the area (originally by Marius Burger) and provided the focus for the site being including in our alien clearing programme across wetlands in eThekwini. Through working in the area, we discovered the eggs of the Endangered Kloof Frog, in April 2016, bringing the threatened frog species count to two. Through support from the Rainforest Trust, we have been training four local nature site guides from Adams Mission with the aim of promoting ecotourism to the area. The area has now become a focus for habitat protection efforts through working with the local community, and as part of this process, we want to know what other interesting biota could be found here.
 

Recently, local nature enthusiasts climbed out of bed at the crack of dawn to participate in a mission to answer this question. The day was cool and overcast with just a touch of drizzle. With a flask of coffee in hand and snacks to keep the team going, 11 of us set off on an exploration of one of the wetland and swamp forest patches within the greater system. We were amazed to find 15 different species of frogs in the area, including sightings of Pickersgill’s Reed Frog, the Kloof Frog, and what we believe to be the tadpole of the Vulnerable Spotted Shovel-nosed Frog, qualifying Adams Mission as a must-visit frogging destination in the Durban area.

Birders are also in for a real treat. In the same area, you will find the beautiful Malachite Kingfisher, the Little Bee Eater, Paradise Flycatcher and Black Sunbirds, which were among the 23 bird species spotted between 06:00 and 14:00 during the Bioblitz.

Of course, one can never overlook the plants that support all these special creatures, so in between the flying, hopping and crawling creatures, we confirmed 45 identified indigenous plants.


We would like to thank everyone for joining us on this special day. Your time and effort is greatly appreciated!
 

 

Beekeeping: My Personal Experiences


Thabo Madlala, Southern Drakensberg Crane Conservation Project Eco-Ranger, African Crane Conservation Programme
ThaboM@ewt.org.za

It is my privilege to be one of the pioneer beekeepers who received training in beekeeping through the Healthy Catchment Alliance Programme, a partnership between the EWT, Conservation South Africa and Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa. After being trained in 2016, I designed my first hive. Encouragingly, the bees colonised it after only a month. This was a learning experience for me as it enabled me to gain new knowledge about bees and their foraging habits. In my spare time, I train people on beekeeping and permaculture. I also conduct general environmental education and awareness in my community through my hiking club.....READ MORE
 

 

Wildlife in Trade team builds capacity in the sector


Dr Andrew Taylor, Wildlife Ranching Project Officer, Wildlife in Trade Programme, and Ashleigh Dore, Programme Officer, Wildlife in Trade Programme
AndrewT@ewt.org.za and AshleighD@ewt.org.za

We conducted our fourth and fifth two-week training courses on wildlife crime analysis during September and October 2017. The fourth was conducted at the South African Wildlife College, where we had six participants from the private and state sectors. The fifth was conducted at Tsolwana Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape, where we had seven participants from the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency. The training forms part of a project funded by the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement with the objective of training conservation managers to use data collected by field rangers to improve the effectiveness of anti-poaching patrols.

We also hosted the Advanced Cycad Training Intervention for the second year running. This four-week course provides valuable skills in cycad identification (including various practical sessions and the use of new cycad identification tools), an in-depth overview of legislation relating to cycad species and an advanced law enforcement components. Members from the South African Police Service and Provincial Nature Conservation Authorities have attended the two sessions hosted thus far, session one: 10 – 13 October (Nelspruit) and session two: 30 October – 3 November (Eastern Cape). Special thanks to Tommie Steyn, Willem van Staden and Etienne Kitching for their assistance in facilitating these training sessions and to US Fish and Wildlife Service for funding the training intervention.
 

 

EVENTS


Country Club Johannesburg Talk


Who let the Dogs in? Endangered African Wild Dogs introduced into northern Kruger National Park 
Date: 6 February 2017
Speaker: Grant Beverley
 

Online Store

Our store will re-open on 15 January 2018. Any orders placed after 14 December 2017 will only be processed after we re-open.
 

 

SUPPORTER NEWS


Celebrating our supporters


The EWT held its AGM in early November, where our integrated report for 2016/2017 was launched. This occasion also provided a special opportunity to recognise some of our incredible supporters, without whom our work would not be possible.
 

The EWT has, historically, given out its most prestigious award, the Cheetah Award, to individuals or organisations that have gone beyond the call of duty and extended themselves in support of the EWT, in the areas of fundraising, business, strategic partnerships, and overall development of the core functions of the EWT and its programmes. Special Acknowledgement awards are awarded to those whose commitment and dedication to the EWT is deserving of recognition.

This year’s Cheetah Award recipients were:

  • Drs Phil and Sue Roberts

Through a generous donation from the Roberts family, including Phil and Sue and their brothers and their families, the EWT was able to purchase the Medike Mountain Reserve in the Soutpansberg Mountains.

  • Ford Wildlife Foundation

The Ford Wildlife Foundation has shown incredible support for the EWT this year, ensuring that many of our projects are able to stay on the road and continue with the critical conservation work being done across vast distances.

  • Lynda du Plessis

Lynda has shown great dedication and passion for the work of the EWT during the year, and has gone above and beyond help to cement the important relationship we have with the Ford Wildlife Foundation.

  • Elizabeth Wakeman Henderson Charitable Foundation

The Elizabeth Wakeman Henderson Charitable Foundation (EWHCF) has supported a number of EWT projects over the last eight years through the provision of generous funding each year for both new projects as well as existing projects that provide critical conservation work on the ground.

  • Running Man Adventures

Running Man Adventures has gone above and beyond over the last three years in support of various EWT projects, raising more than R700,000 through various fundraising events.

  • Rand Merchant Bank

Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) has been an incredible supporter of the EWT for more than a decade, partnering with six of our programmes to help us unlock the green economy and restore ecosystems in key conservation areas across southern Africa.

This year’s Special Acknowledgement Award recipients were:

  • Floris Pelser of FP Labour Consultants

Floris Pelser was approached as part of a drive to get BBBEE consultants to refer their clients to the EWT for SED funding and has shown outstanding commitment to the work of the EWT.

  • Institute of Directors in Southern Africa

The EWT was eager to reap the benefits of having an external appraisal of our Board, despite this not being a requirement for a Trust, as we aspire to the highest levels of corporate governance. As such, we were thrilled when the IoDSA kindly offered to sponsor this work for us.

  • Deidre Herbst

Over the last few years, the EWT has been the beneficiary of an event called the Rhino Peak Challenge – a race up the iconic Rhino Peak in the Drakensberg. Deidre Herbst, Environmental Manager for Eskom, one of our Strategic Partners, agreed to take on this challenge, with R11,430 being pledged towards her race by 61 donors.

  • Deloitte Southern Africa

Deloitte provides a professional team of auditors including partner, manager and field audit staff to audit our books of account annually. These services are provided pro bono which results in tremendous cost savings for the EWT.
 

 

 Our corporate supporters for the year were also recognised with certificates of appreciation. The full list of our supporters can be found on our website.
 

 

FNB volunteers make a difference


Tammy Baker, Business Development Officer
TammyB@ewt.org.za


The EWT, in partnership with the FNB volunteers’ programme, got together at Turffontein Primary on 31 October to implement a vegetable garden at this feeder scheme school. With sun cream, hats and loads of water to keep us going, we all got stuck in. After three hours of intensive gardening, we were very impressed with our efforts!
 

This forms part of our Urban Conservation Programme and was funded by FNB staff who raise money through various avenues to help communities. FNB volunteers will also be getting involved in the feeding facilities at the school and have already made an impact to be proud of. A big thank you to Yasmeen Mayet and Ana da Rocha (both from FNB Business Projects and Operations), and the rest of the volunteers from FNB for their enthusiasm and support.
 

 

Make a difference with WildlifeCampus


WildlifeCampus is a Field Guide Association of South Africa (FGASA) endorsed distance learning provider, and has been offering wildlife, wildlife-related, guiding and natural science courses for over 16 years. As a supporter of the EWT, WildlifeCampus is proud to share that by signing up for one of our online courses, 25% of your tuition fee will be donated directly, free of any administration or facility fees, to the EWT! By using the reference EWT when registering, you will be helping to make Conservation in Action possible.

Find out more about the available courses at www.wildlifecampus.com or contact us on info@wildlifecampus.com
 


 

 

Donating is now as easy as snapping your fingers… or your phone!         


Supporters can now donate to the EWT quickly and safely, using SnapScan. All you need to do is:

  1. Download the SnapScan application on your smartphone
  2. Register with your details – this should take no more than a few minutes
  3. Scan our EWT barcode to make your donation in the amount of your choice (be sure to choose donation rather than e-shop from the dropdown menu) – you’ll be asked to enter your PIN so you know the transaction is secure

It’s as easy as one-two-three! Once you’ve made your donation via SnapScan, you’ll get an SMS confirming the transaction, and the EWT will be notified via SMS too. Supporting Conservation in Action couldn’t be simpler.

No SnapScan? No problem! Simply SMS ‘SAVE’ to 31913 to donate R15 to help make Conservation in Action possible!

 

Every swipe counts!


Did you know that you can support the EWT through the MyPlanet programme? The MyPlanet fundraising programme was launched as an extension of MySchool to provide community-minded people like yourself the opportunity to support a worthy cause, such as the EWT, that is focused on the improvement and protection of the environment and animals. And it doesn’t cost you a cent!
 

So get your free MyPlanet card (no monthly fees, no costs to you!) and nominate the EWT as the beneficiary you wish to support. Then swipe your card at partner stores when you shop, and they will donate a percentage of your purchases on your behalf.

  • If you don't have a MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet card yet, simply apply for your free card now and select the EWT as your beneficiary. Once you start swiping your card, we’ll start receiving funds.
  • If you already have a MySchool card, but would like to change your beneficiary or add a charity, simply call the Client Service Centre on 0860 100 445 or email cs@myschool.co.za – there is no need to get a new card!

Find out more by visiting http://www.myschool.co.za/schools/myplanet

 

 

Physical Address: Building K2, Ardeer Road, Pinelands Office Park,
Modderfontein 1609, Gauteng, South Africa,
Postal Address: Private Bag X 11, Modderfontein 1645, Gauteng, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 11 372 3600 Fax: +27 (0) 11 608 4682 NPO Number: 015-502
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