CCFA celebrates World Rewilding Day 2023

CCFA celebrates World Rewilding Day 2023

rewild

/ˌriːˈwʌɪld/

[restore (an area of land) to its natural uncultivated state (used especially with reference to the reintroduction of species of wild animal that have been driven out or exterminated).]

In recent years, conservationists have been turning to the practice of rewilding as a way to save endangered species from extinction. Rewilding involves restoring natural ecosystems by reintroducing species that have been driven out or gone extinct from an area. At CCFA, we believe this method to be a proactive and integrated approach to conservation.

The idea behind rewilding is that by restoring natural ecosystems and the species that inhabit them, we can improve biodiversity, ecosystem function, and overall ecological health. For example, reintroducing predators such as wolves or lynx to an area can help control populations of herbivores, which in turn can reduce the overgrazing of plants and improve the diversity of plant species.

A notable success story

One of the most notable rewilding success stories is the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Wolves were eradicated from the park in the early 20th century, but in 1995 and 1996, 31 wolves were reintroduced. Since then, the wolf population has grown to over one hundred, and the ecosystem has undergone significant changes. The presence of wolves led to a reduction in the elk population, which allowed for the recovery of vegetation such as aspen and willow trees. This has in turn led to an increase in songbird populations and other wildlife that depend on these plants for habitat.

Rewilding challenges

While rewilding has shown promise as a conservation tool, it is not without its challenges. One of the biggest obstacles is overcoming the political and social barriers to reintroducing species that have been extirpated from an area. There can be resistance from local communities who may be concerned about the impacts of reintroducing predators or other species, or who may have economic interests that conflict with rewilding efforts.

Another challenge is ensuring that reintroduced species can thrive in their new environment. This may involve providing habitat restoration or management or addressing other threats such as habitat loss, pollution, or climate change. Additionally, rewilding efforts may need to be coordinated across multiple jurisdictions, which can be difficult to navigate.

An effective tool for conservation

Despite these challenges, rewilding has the potential to be an effective tool for conservation. By reintroducing species that have been lost or driven out, we can improve biodiversity, ecosystem function, and overall ecological health. With careful planning and management, rewilding can help to save endangered species from extinction and restore balance to our ecosystems. A species with a high rewilding success rate is the cheetah.

Cheetah rewilding

Cheetahs are one of the most endangered big cats in the world, with an estimated 7,100 individuals remaining. This number is a remarkable decrease from an estimated 100,000 cheetahs in 1900. In southern Africa, rewilding has become a valuable tool for conserving cheetah populations. This involves reintroducing cheetahs to areas where they were once found but have since disappeared.

The cheetah metapopulation

Rewilding has been successful in South Africa, where cheetahs have been reintroduced to private game reserves. In some cases, these reintroduced cheetahs have formed stable populations and have even started to expand into neighbouring areas. This success is, in large part, due to the efforts of organisations like The Metapopulation Initiative which helps manage the cheetah populations, encourage reintroductions, and facilitate relocations to preserve the genetic integrity and overcome the many challenges that cheetahs face as a species.

The CCFA Cheetah Rewilding Project

CCFA is collaborating with such partners to rewild cheetahs through our Cheetah Rewilding Project at Nyosi Wildlife Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. Captive cheetahs, identified as suitable for the programme, arrive at the reserve to spend 6 – 8 weeks in a large enclosure where they are fed a natural diet of wild meat and prepared for release onto the 2,500-ha reserve where they can begin honing their hunting skills. Once they are consistently feeding themselves and deemed self-sufficient, they can be rehomed to their permanent home in a predetermined protected area where they can integrate into an existing cheetah population. We anticipate the entire process to take between 6 to 12 months per intake, following which, we can begin rewilding the next intake of cheetahs.

Rewilding and people

Overall, cheetah rewilding has shown great promise as a conservation tool. By reintroducing cheetahs to areas where they have disappeared, we can help to restore populations and improve genetic diversity. However, rewilding efforts must be carefully managed and monitored to ensure the long-term success of the project. Additionally, community involvement and education are crucial to the success of rewilding efforts, as they can help to reduce conflicts between humans and cheetahs and increase support for conservation efforts.

The CCFA Cheetah Champion Programme

CCFA has initiated a Cheetah Champion Programme, through which we empower a community member for every cheetah we rewild. These community members are our Cheetah Champions, who will walk a ‘hand-in-paw’ journey with their cheetah companion and serve as wildlife conservation ambassadors within their communities.

Additional information:

How to support our Cheetah Rewilding Project

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Adrian Gardiner honoured with Global Humanitarian Award

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A lifetime award

On March 9th, 2023, our Chairman, Adrian Gardiner, was awarded the prestigious Global Humanitarian Award by Global Humane. As the Community Conservation Fund – Africa NPC, we are incredibly proud of Adrian and his contributions to the conservation industry and the communities in which we operate. The award was presented to Adrian by American Humane President and CEO, Dr Robin Ganzert who spoke in recognition of all that Adrian has achieved for animals, people and conservation. American Humane has been committed to helping ensure the safety, welfare and well-being of animals all over the world since its inception in 1877. 

Adrian Gardiner has been a leading figure in conservation and sustainable tourism in Africa for over three decades. He founded the Mantis Collection, a group of luxury hotels and eco-lodges that prioritize sustainable tourism practices and have a positive impact on the local communities and wildlife. Adrian’s vision for sustainable tourism is one that values the environment and the people who call it home, and his work has inspired countless others in the industry to follow in his footsteps.

In addition to his work with the Mantis Collection, Adrian is the Chairman of the Community Conservation Fund – Africa NPC, an organization that works to conserve wildlife and support rural communities in southern Africa. The CCFA has a holistic approach to conservation, recognizing that the health and well-being of communities and ecosystems are interconnected. Through partnerships with local communities and conservation organizations, the CCFA has successfully implemented programs that benefit both people and wildlife.

One such program is Greening the Community, an initiative focused on long-term empowerment and environmental sustainability for the local community of Kwa Nobuhle in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape. Its primary objective is to promote environmental awareness practices at the grassroots level, with a particular emphasis on inspiring change and motivating young people to take an active role in creating a prosperous future for all. The CCFA youth development initiative, Greening Young Futures, was born out of the Greening the Community project.

Another program that the CCFA has implemented is the Cheetah Rewilding Project at Nyosi Wildlife Reserve, the home of our CCFA Legacy Project. The project is an ambitious undertaking aimed at reintroducing captive cheetahs into the wild while simultaneously empowering community members. By doing so, the project aims to establish a direct, mutually beneficial connection between endangered wildlife and the local community.

Adrian’s leadership and vision have been instrumental in the success of the CCFA and its programs. His commitment to sustainable tourism and community-benefit conservation has not only benefited southern Africa but has also set an example for the global tourism industry. The Global Humanitarian Award is a well-deserved recognition of his contributions, and we are honoured to have him as our Chairman.

As the CCFA, we recognize that conservation is not a one-person job. It takes a collective effort from individuals, organizations, and communities to make a lasting impact. However, having a leader like Adrian Gardiner at the helm inspires us to continue working towards our vision of a world where people and wildlife thrive together.

We hope that Adrian’s recognition by Global Humane will inspire others to take action towards conservation and sustainable tourism. As a conservation organization, we believe that everyone has a role to play in protecting our natural resources and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come. By working together, we can make a difference and create a world where people and wildlife can coexist in harmony.

Additional information:

How to support the CCFA

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