Sacramento Non-Profit Makes Huge Impact in Zambia
Saving African Wildlife from Extinction
[Sacramento, CA.] At the current level of illegal poaching and slaughter in Africa, experts say that elephants will be extinct within 5 to 15 years.
“Today’s wildlife crisis can feel overwhelming,” says Sacramento local Carol Van Bruggen, co-founder of The Africa Hope Fund and partner in a well known financial advisory firm. “But we’ve found that small, very strategic projects can have a tremendous impact.”
Since 2008, Carol and her husband Steve Kuhn have helped create impressive progress in protecting wildlife in the South Luangwa Valley of Zambia. “It’s broader than supporting anti-poaching efforts,” says Steve. “We saw the need for children to become educated, not only to have skills to make a living wage, but also to appreciate wildlife and how it affects their economy, culture and quality of life.”
The Africa Hope Fund’s successful projects in Zambia so far include:
- Sponsorship of 30 children to attend secondary school and college.
- Building 6 new classrooms and a library for a dilapidated primary school, increasing the student body from 320 to 730.
- Funding local scouting patrols who find and arrest poachers, locate snares, and rescue animals caught in snares.
- Conservation education programs and classes for local children, several of whom now have careers in wildlife conservation.
- The first three detection dogs in Zambia who find elephant ivory, rhino horns, bush meat, other wildlife contraband, guns and ammunition. (featured on TedTalks and in The Guardian)
“In the very first year, one of our detection dogs helped catch 150 poachers, which means he saved at least that many elephants, lions and wild dogs,” Carol notes.
The Africa Hope Fund’s bi-annual fundraiser, Safari on the River, will be held in Sacramento on September 18th. This fun event features African drummers and dancers, an African Marketplace, and African-themed food. Presenters will be Rachel McRobb and Benson Kanyembo, who work on the frontlines of the anti-poaching effort in Zambia, as well as Megan Parker who heads up Working Dogs for Conservation. Safari on the River is also an official Farm to Fork event.
About The Africa Hope Fund: Founded in 2008, The Africa Hope Fund’s vision is: A world where animals no longer need to be protected from man. For further information, bios of founders and Safari event presenters, please see http://africahopefund.org
Born and raised in Zambia, Rachel has the love of the land and wild animals in her blood. After attending school in South Africa, she worked as a camp caterer and guide during the season and saved her wages to pay honorary Wildlife scouts to mobilize patrols in the South Luangwa. After running a lodge in northern Zambia, she saw the damage poachers made in animal populations and decided to make conservation her life’s work. She moved to the South Luangwa in Zambia and started the South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS), which now employs over 45 scouts who patrol the valley, national park and game management areas. SLCS is funded entirely by contributions and grants by those who want to save the remaining animals (which bring people from all over the globe to see them) as well as preserving the beauty and natural vegetation of the land.
Megan received a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.S. in raptor ecology from Boise State University. She returned to her home state of Montana to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Montana in Wildlife Biology on the scent-marking behavior and territoriality of wild dogs in Botswana. She began pioneering training methods for conservation detection dogs in 1996. Megan has been involved in dog training, obedience, and search-and-rescue since childhood. She is interested in the international use of conservation working dogs to help under-funded projects acquire excellent data, reduce costs and preserve endangered species.
Benson is the Operations Manager for SLCS and joined the team in 2009. Born and raised in Zambia he not only brings with him a wealth of experience and skills but understands the needs of the people and the different cultures. Benson worked for ZAWA for twelve years and was a Senior Instructor for ZAWA doing para-military scout training and helping to protect the reintroduced rhinos in North Luangwa National Park. Benson lives in Mfuwe with his family.