We (Wildlife ACT) are very encouraged to hear from people who are thoroughly researching their volunteering options, and sincerely wish more people would research their available options (including our organisation) fully, with regard to true conservation impact.
It is our mission to encourage our supporters to raise awareness, and to educate themselves (and others) around the potential pitfalls in projects that claim conservation value where there is none, and in so doing, mislead and deceive those who partake in such activities. It is most regrettably true that there has been widespread abuse of the ‘voluntourism’ market to further the gain of projects claiming to provide conservation outputs.
This is especially true of projects that breed wild animals (unnecessarily) in captivity – specifically Lion, for the purpose of cub petting, hands-on care and the walking with Lions entertainment industries. The scientific evidence shows that the captive breeding of Lion and other predators plays no role in the conservation of these species in the wild whatsoever.
Many wildlife sanctuaries claim conservation status, yet by pure definition can have no conservation output – with conservation being “the preservation of species for the future growth and maintenance of species in the wild”, not in a sanctuary. Sanctuaries are animal welfare projects, designed to allow captive wild animals the means of living the rest of their lives in peace. We are NOT a rehabilitation facility or ‘sanctuary’ in which volunteers are able to handle or touch any of the animals.
We strictly do not allow breeding in sanctuaries, or allow any form of direct human interaction. We have assisted “Blood Lions” in spearheading the ‘Born to Live Wild‘ pledge, supporting the commitment to advocate responsible tourism by opposing exploitative wildlife interactions (especially projects that breed wild animals in captivity).
Wildlife ACT and Fair Trade Tourism hosted a screening of the BLOOD LIONS™ documentary that exposes the captive lion breeding and canned hunting industry in South Africa, during the “World Youth Travel Conference” in Cape Town in 2016, with a follow-up workshop with the conference delegates and producers of the film.
Dr. Simon Morgan, Co-Founder of Wildlife ACT, was invited to the 2016 ITB – the world’s Leading Travel Trade Show, to co-present the keynote address at Fair Trade Tourism’s annual event. Dr Morgan also participated in the subsequent panel discussion entitled “Imagine Helping Africa”, where issues regarding the quality in the volunteering sector, and a workshop to figure out how tourism and travel activities can play a part in ensuring that the exploitation of predators is no longer an acceptable practice.
It is also unfortunate that there are volunteer organisations who become involved in conservation with the purpose of creating work to attract volunteers to join them. The primary difference between us and many volunteering organisations is that Wildlife ACT has always been a conservation organisation first and foremost, and is led by serious conservationists. Our volunteers come and join alongside us, as we perform conservation work, in the field.
Our projects on the different Reserves on which we work, have been legally contracted directly to the Management authority of each Reserve, for the purpose of performing essential conservation work for those Reserves.
With regards to credibility, Wildlife ACT is listed as “highly recommended” on the “Volunteers in Africa Beware” Facebook page, on the “Updated List of Good Places that we recommend so far to potential volunteers”. This page is a valuable resource to anyone thinking of volunteering as it highlights the pitfalls of many pseudo-conservation volunteering organisations that sadly have questionable ethics.
Wildlife ACT is proud to have been accepted as a member organisation of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We are supported by and working with high profile organisations including the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP),Wildlands Conservation Trust, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and other well-known conservation NGO’s, as well as with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife – the provincial conservation authority. We are also officially contracted by the international wild cat conservation organisation, Panthera, to perform Leopard population monitoring throughout KwaZulu-Natal. Wildlife ACT is a founding partner of Project Rhino KZN and also forms part of the Advisory Committee of the Wild Dog Advisory Group of South Africa.
With regard to recent mention in other well-known publications, (i.e. not links from our own website, but from external independent publications, that reference our achievements), here are a few links:
“Wildlife ACT Gains “FAIR TRADE CERTIFICATION“
Jane Edge, MD of Fair Trade Tourism, said the growth of the volunteer sector had increased the need to distinguish genuine conservation operators from those practising commercial voluntourism without real conservation benefit.
“We have a high regard for Wildlife ACT’s contribution to conservation and are thrilled that they are now able to display the Fair Trade Tourism mark,” she said.
- Wildlife ACT wins second-place overall, in the “BEST FOR HABITAT & SPECIES CONSERVATION” category at the African Responsible Tourism Awards 2017
- Wildlife ACT wins second-place overall, in the “BEST FOR WILDLIFE” category at the WORLD Responsible Tourism Awards 2018
- AFRICA GEOGRAPHIC – “10 places to volunteer in Africa”
All of the above is why Wildlife ACT exists, is how we continue to grow, and is how we contribute to wildlife conservation to the best of our ability.