Ubuntu Magazine, autumn 2023

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Issue 7 | Autumn 2023



CYCLING 4 WILDLIFE Reflecting on an incredible journey

PARDICOLOR Empowering people and conservation through art

HUNTER WEBER On a graduate’s path to sustainable tourism

GABON UNTOUCHED: CONNECTED THROUGH GORILLAS How research, ecotourism and community development come together in conservation www.ubuntumagazine.com

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Ubuntu Magazine transforms your perspective on the natural world. Our aim is to create awareness around the beauty of the world, by putting a spotlight on the conservationists working day and night to conserve our surroundings. Only with thorough research and sharing knowledge, we can assure ourselves of a bright, biodiverse future. With Ubuntu we broaden our perspective in living together with nature, instead of alongside it.

Emerge yourself in the articles and become inspired.

CONTENTS Interactive Table of Contents: Click to Jump to Articles Instantly!

Gabon Untouched

Introduction Manon Verijdt


Cycling4Wildlife Reflecting on an incredible journey PARDICOLOR Empowering people and conservation through art


How research, ecotourism and community development come together in conservation



Gabon Untouched How research, ecotourism and community development come together in conservation



Infographic The use of drones in conservation Hunter Weber On a graduate’s path to sustainable tourism


08 Cycling4Wildlife Conservation of Kenya’s Iconic Ecosystem and Wildlife

22 PARDICOLOR | Empowering people and conservation through art

“I am, because we are.” Stargazer Pusetso Motshwaedi


Kernow Conservation The Pursuit of a Wilder Cornwall





Kernow Conservation


Stargazer: Pusetso Motshwaedi


UBUNTU INTRODUCTION I happily present you issue 7 of Ubuntu Magazine. Once again, we have collected stories from across the globe, to inform you about what’s happening on the frontlines, and inspire you to make a change yourself. In one of those stories, I visit Gabon, a country found on the west coast of Africa. This relatively unknown country hosts an enormous biodiversity worth learning more about. During my journey to Doussala, a small town bordering the Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, I was able to learn more about the threats to Gabon’s wildlife – such as active logging – and I got an insight in the daily lives of the animals that roam around here, such as the western lowland gorilla. Visiting the western lowland gorillas is a special experience. In order to do so without stressing the animals, a process called ‘habituation’ has taken place over many years. Habituating is the process of making them used to human presence in their habitat, that way they can be observed from a distance without disturbing them. Watching a group of habituated gorillas is as close as you can get, and I’m beyond curious to learn more about the process of habituation, and how this benefits the conservation of the species. It is by accident that we met Japanese researcher Chieko Ando at the field station in Doussala. She is the woman who spent ten years of her life living in this jungle, to habituate and research the gorillas in order to protect them. Countless stories are shared between us, and within mere hours I have the feeling I got a good glimpse of what life in the jungle must have been like. Although getting to the bottom of stories and figuring out every little detail is inherent to writing stories like those found in Ubuntu Magazine, it is very seldom


that we encounter people like Chieko Ando in real life. It was a true pleasure and I feel incredibly blessed. Thanks to Chieko Ando we were able to learn more about the habituation process and how this improves both research opportunities as well as eco-tourism opportunities. Beyond that, our visit to the field station in Doussala gave us insights in the combination between research, eco-tourism and conservation. Small-scale ecotourism is definitely helping the gorillas here, but it also benefits the community living so closely to these miraculous animals. We witness a beautiful example of this benefit-for-communities when we drive back to civilization. Of the dozen nearlybroken bridges that we crossed on our way to Doussala, more than half have now been repaired creating a better connection between the locals and necessary care such as the hospital. The money made because of the gorillas, has now found its way to the people living alongside that the project and so it becomes clear once again, that the impact of conservation projects often goes far beyond saving a species or ecosystem. The full story on the western lowland gorillas can be found on page …, but I highly recommend you to also read through the rest of the magazine. Demelza Stokes, for example, takes us along in her journey of founding PARDICOLOR, a conservation organization focused on art. But it doesn’t end there, as we fly – with drones this time – from Botswana to the UK and from the USA to Zambia. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy the stories.

- Manon Verijdt Founder Ubuntu Magazine



Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife




In a previous interview with Cycling 4 Wildlife, Ubuntu magazine learned about the preparations of the four founders before setting out on their 10 week cycling journey. Thomas, Jan, Huib and Willem visited various reserves managed by African Parks to learn about their conservation projects and raise money for them at the same time. After their return we caught up with Willem van Liemt who tells us all about their adventures and revisits both challenges and successes of the trip.



NOW THAT YOU’VE COMPLETED YOUR JOURNEY, WHICH OF THE AFRICAN PARK RESERVES LEFT THE MOST SIGNIFICANT IMPRESSION ON YOU AND WHY? We visited seven reserves altogether and they were all incredibly beautiful. we especially loved the last two places we visited, which were both in Zambia. the sheer size of the kafue national park, with about 2.4 million hectares, was just incredible. the park is buffered by game management areas that are a further 4 million hectares in size, so in total that’s 6.4 million hectares. our final destination was the liuwa plain national park. when we arrived on these endless open plains, it felt like we had reached not just the end of our journey but the end of the world. we also got to see cheetahs and wild dogs, which was amazing. WHAT ARE SOME NOTABLE SUCCESSES OF THE CONSERVATION PROJECTS THAT REALLY STUCK OUT TO YOU? We saw achievements everywhere we went. We went to parks that were in very different stages of management under African Parks, which made it really interesting for us. Some parks are just starting to put systems into place, whereas a park such as Akagera has been under African Parks management for 13 years now. We could see that it is working like a well-oiled machine: Tourism is taking off, they are able to create a lot of employment opportunities, and they also have very healthy populations of elephants, lions and, more recently, rhinos. So that is a massive success story.

“I believe that for the parks to succeed the key takeaway is that it all begins and ends with the involvement of the local community.” Usually, local people are a bit skeptical in the beginning because suddenly there’s much more law enforcement and they don’t have access to firewood or meat in the park anymore. After a while however, they can tell that due to the management of African Parks, local schools and entrepreneurs are supported and infrastructure is being set up. So these are very tangible benefits to local communities. Once they realize that these people are there to help them as well as the animals, they start to become more invested in the conservation aspect of the project too. I believe that for the parks to succeed the key takeaway is that it all begins and ends with the involvement of the local community. Through educating and engaging people, as well as supporting them economically, we can create sustainable long-term protection.


Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife

Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife


DID YOU SEE DIFFERENCES IN THE CHALLENGES FACED BY THE PARKS THAT YOU VISITED? Yes, the challenges were very different from park to park. Although poaching is a threat everywhere, it is highly dependent on the size of the park. What we found was that in densely populated areas where you have relatively small fenced reserves, the pressure from the local people is immense. What often happens is that people want to go into the reserve to fish or fetch firewood. In order to get inside, they have to break the electric fence. Once the power is cut, elephants can easily get out and raid the crops of nearby farmers. In huge unfenced reserves such as the Kafue National Park, the area is not as densely populated and the challenges are therefore very different. One major problem there is wildfires. Kafue has only recently been brought under African Parks management. Since it was neglected for a long time, poaching has resulted in low numbers of antelope and other animals to graze the lands. As a result, most grass is left uneaten and dries out, providing huge quantities of fuel for uncontrollable wildfires in the dry season. At the moment, about 75 percent of Kafue National Park burns down every year, whereas normally – with enough grazing animals present – that should only be around 20-30 percent. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE SOME PARTICULAR CHALLENGES WHEN IT COMES TO CONSERVATION EFFORTS AND EDUCATION OF THE LOCALS IN PARTICULAR? I think many people are enthusiastic about conservation. We managed to join a few school visits to the parks and saw how excited these children were. But undoubtedly there are challenges when it comes to education. Some parks simply do not have the capacity to reach all of the children. In Liwonde for example, around a million people live within a 5 km radius of the park and a huge proportion, over 50 percent, are children.

Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife IS THERE SOMETHING YOU HAVE LEARNED ABOUT CONSERVATION THAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW BEFORE? I found it really impressive that people working in those parks make a huge personal sacrifice in order to be involved with conservation – to support something they find so important. They sometimes live in very remote places, far away from friends and family. What is also mindblowing to me is to see just how little money there is in African conservation. The huge area of the Kafue National Park I mentioned earlier is managed on an annual budget of just $7.5 million. There are tiny nature reserves in the Netherlands that we spend much more money on. So that really put things into perspective for me. HOW CONCERNING DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT THERE IS STILL NOT MUCH MONEY IN CONSERVATION IN GENERAL? It is a massive issue. To protect our biodiversity effectively across the globe, around $960 billion needs to be invested in conservation every year. And I think at this point it is not even $150 billion, so we are miles off still. In light of this it is very impressive what an NGO like African Parks and undoubtedly many other NGOs are able to do with so little money, but I find it worrying that large sums of money are happily spent on things much less urgent than the protection of our global biodiversity.




Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife



AS YOU MENTIONED IN THE FIRST INTERVIEW YOU PREPARED FOR THE TRIP AS WELL AS YOU COULD – TALKING TO PEOPLE WHO ALREADY HAD EXPERIENCE, PLANNING OUT THE ROUTE AS WELL AS POSSIBLE AND OF COURSE A LOT OF CYCLING. BUT HOW IN THE END DID THE REALITY OF YOUR CYCLING TOUR COMPARE TO YOUR INITIAL EXPECTATIONS? I think we were neither under- nor over-prepared. Luckily, we all felt like we kind of nailed it. Of course there were some things we couldn’t really have prepared for such as the mountains in Rwanda. After all, it is quite difficult to find mountains in the Netherlands. So we couldn’t really train for that and it was definitely tough – but we did it in the end. In terms of gear we intended to bring a drone, but when we arrived in Kigali, our starting point, it was taken by the border police at the airport, which was a shame! In general, we did try to pack light, but still felt like we had everything we needed. Beforehand we had some debates about whether to bring camping chairs or not. In the end we decided to bring them and I am very glad we did. We also brought a coffee percolator with us. I have to give credit to Huib for his determination to bring those things, because it was worth it. All in all, I think we did well when it comes to preparation. DID YOU HAVE ANY CHALLENGING MOMENTS DURING YOUR TOUR, AND IF YES, HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO OVERCOME THEM? I would say that traffic was the main threat for sure. The roads there are not always the best – people drive fast and are not really used to cyclists. So quite often we were kind of pushed off the road. Especially in Tanzania we definitely experienced some scary moments. On an improvised gravel road people were still driving about 80 to 100 kilometers per hour, so we were constantly eating dust. That was definitely the toughest stretch of


the whole leg, at least if you ask me. The only way we overcame that was to communicate well and warn each other. We also had to make sure to take enough breaks, because it can become quite tiresome to always stay alert. One thing we unfortunately did not think to do was to check the wind patterns on our route. As it turned out we cycled through headwinds for at least six weeks, which was quite demotivating at times. Another challenge was Jan suffering a knee injury when we were still in Tanzania, so quite early on our journey. Unfortunately he was in a lot of pain while cycling. He could cycle if he took painkillers, however, we didn’t know if there was going to be any lasting damage. We then decided to consult a few physiotherapists to make sure it was fine for him to go on. It was a big relief when we were given the green light. Luckily, by the end, his condition had improved more and more, and he didn’t need to take any more painkillers. HOW DID YOU BOND AS A TEAM WHILE YOU WERE FACING THIS JOURNEY TOGETHER AND WERE THERE ANY DISAGREEMENTS OR DIFFERENCES IN APPROACH? There were definitely some moments where we disagreed on things. Huib for example had a tendency to check everything a million times before deciding on taking a road, whereas I am a person who thinks that if the GPS says so, then let’s do it. But usually two guys would disagree and two guys would have a laugh at the fact that the other two disagreed. This quickly released all the tension that might have built up. In general, I think it was quite impressive that even though we were extremely tired at times, there was not a single moment when someone raised his voice. So when it comes to our personal achievements, I think what I am most proud of is how we did it as a team.

All Photo Credits: Cycling 4 Wildlife

All Photo Credit: Cycling 4 wildlife

AFRICA REFLECTING BACK ON THE INTRODUCTION INTERVIEW, YOU MENTIONED EACH ONE OF YOU HAVING QUITE UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS. HOW DID THAT CONTRIBUTE TO THE TEAM’S DYNAMIC? I think we all contributed to the project in very different ways. Huib and Jan are really sociable and were therefore great at connecting with the locals. Even if people didn’t speak English very well, they always found a way to have a laugh with them, which opened many doors for us. So that was definitely something that was very valuable. Thomas is a great planner, and as such really good at coming up with ideas of how to do things. Finally, I think due to my conservation background I was able to ask the right questions to the right people inside the parks, which I think helped us gain a good understanding of what conservation looked like in practice. So our different strengths definitely played into how successful our journey was.

Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife 18

WERE THERE ANY UNEXPECTED EVENTS THAT MADE YOUR JOURNEY PARTICULARLY MEMORABLE? Absolutely. Mostly the fact that we were welcomed so warmly by all the parks we visited. In some parks a whole schedule was arranged for us, so we often got to visit schools and go on game drives, which was awesome. In other parks it was much more unplanned, which had its advantages as well. On the evening we arrived in Kafue National Park, we were welcomed by Andrea, the Funding and Reporting Manager and wife of Craig who is the Park Manager there. She told us that on that day, 41 buffalo calves had tragically drowned. Some of these carcasses were brought in the next day to feed some orphaned lion cubs they had on site. Their mother had been killed by poachers so the cubs were fed by the team to then be released back into the wild. They invited us to join them for the feeding, which was a very impressive experience to be part of. Then we were involved with the fighting of a fire that had suddenly broken out and also caught a leopard that was trying to get into the shed where the buffalo carcasses were stored. All of this happened in one day and none of it was planned. The fact that we could just tag along as if we worked there ourselves was incredible. So that was definitely a memorable day.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC MOMENTS OR EXPERIENCES THAT YOU BELIEVE SIGNIFICANTLY SHAPED YOUR PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE? There’s multiple. When we visited Nkhotakota, the Northernmost park in Malawi, they explained that they had a lot of trouble with human-wildlife conflict. After a very long absence, about 500 elephants were reintroduced to Nkhotakota in 2016-2017. People living alongside the park now suddenly had to deal with elephants breaking out and raiding crops. Just before our arrival, someone had gone into the park and sabotaged the fence. An elephant managed to break out and assault a woman. She survived, but it was a close call. That really showed us the importance of fences. They are controversial conservation tools, because in a lot of places creating a fenced nature reserve is associated with the exclusion of people from their ancestral lands. But here we could really see how the fences serve to keep the animals in, from endangering the people and from being endangered themselves. Once again this story stressed the importance of reaching out to communities and educating people about how to coexist with wildlife – and why it is important to have wildlife in the first place. One very tangible example of why environmental education is so important was when we were shown around Liwonde by a guide called Nelson, who came from a village near the park. When he was very young, two rangers had come to his school and talked about the importance of conservation. He was so inspired that he decided to become a ranger himself! People like him are going to inspire the next generation as well, which I think is awesome.

“All of this happened in one day. We could just tag along as if we belonged there.” Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife


Photo Credit: Cycling 4 Wildlife


BEFORE YOU WENT ON YOUR JOURNEY, YOU HAD SPECIFIC EDUCATIONAL GOALS IN MIND. WHAT DID YOU DO TO INFORM AND ENGAGE YOUR ONLINE COMMUNITY, AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ACHIEVED WHAT YOU SET OUT TO DO IN TERMS OF CONSERVATION AND AWARENESS? During our journey we created a lot of footage and put the edited videos and blogs online. I think we would have liked to gain a bigger following and reach out to more people, but we also realized just how challenging it is to create good content without us having any experience with editing or maintaining a social media presence. Still, we aimed to create content that was informative, mainly in the form of blogs, and also got to show the overall picture as well as funny moments in our videos. With that I think we managed to give our audience quite a good overview of the things we learned and experienced. After a long day of cycling, editing was not always the first thing on our minds, and also Wi-Fi wasn’t always readily available. So we are still planning on producing a significant amount of content, especially some more educational videos as well. YOUR AIM WAS TO RAISE €100,000 FOR AFRICAN PARKS. HOW IS THAT GOING? I think we are at around €84,000 now. We still have quite a distance to go but I’m convinced that we will get there. I’m actually going to be running a half marathon next month to try and raise the rest of the money, and I’m sure the other guys will join as well. So we are trying to reach our goal in different ways. WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS FOR CYCLING 4 WILDLIFE? The money that we have raised will go to environmental education projects within African Parks. We will have a meeting with someone from their fundraising team soon to discuss what specific projects the money will go to.

Instagram @cyclingforwildlife

The plan for Cycling 4 Wildlife is to become an annual event, whether the next edition will be for African Parks or for another conservation NGO is yet to be determined. The four of us won’t be cycling next year, but we are trying to find four people who want to go on an amazing cycling adventure and raise money for wildlife in the process. So maybe someone who is reading this would like to be involved with it! Anything is possible: Cycling through Europe to raise money for European wildlife, or in North or South America, Asia or even Africa again. With everything that we have learned, I think we have quite a bit of experience and knowledge on how to arrange a trip like this. Our goal would be to assist these people in organizing the trip and raising funds, and hopefully the second edition will become an even bigger success. LASTLY, HAVING COMPLETED THIS JOURNEY, IS THERE A FINAL MESSAGE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE READERS OF UBUNTU MAGAZINE? It would be great if people could check out our blogs and videos and share them with friends and family. And, if you can, donate to our campaign because we still have a little bit left to go. Something that I really want to mention as well is if you have the opportunity to visit the parks managed by African Parks, do it. It is really important to support them, so they can continue their amazing work. Also, many of them are not well-established as tourism destinations yet and I think that makes them incredible places to visit. It is very different to the Serengeti for example where there may be traffic jams to see lion prides. If you want a true wildlife experience I would go to a place like Liuwa Plain, Akagera National Park or Nkhotakota. It doesn’t have to be incredibly expensive either. With a tent and a rented vehicle, it is actually pretty affordable to visit many of these beautiful places.

Website www.cycling4wildlife.com





EMPOWERING PEOPLE AND CONSERVATION THROUGH ART Throughout centuries , art has been one of the most powerful and evocative ways for humans to express themselves, from rock art and cave paintings that are now thousands of years old to the diverse modes and mediums of modern art in the 21st century. Today, art can also be used as a way to bring attention to, as well as celebrate, causes like conservation. One organization, PARDICOLOR, is supporting artists from around the world as they create inspirational and original artworks that are aimed at drawing attention to endangered species and threatened habitats. We speak with Demelza Stokes, who is the founder of PARDICOLOR, about her passion for wildlife conservation and her connection to art.

Photo Credit: Anna Luy Tan is a documentary filmmaker, writer and 2022 PCAF grantee. Anna’s project ‘White Flower’ is about Taiwan’s intricate coral reefs, the importance of these marine ecosystems, the threats they face and the conservation measures that can help to restore these fragile environments.



PARDICOLOR celebrates the natural world through the creative expression of people. PARDICOLOR was started by Demelza Stokes and her sister Tabitha in 2020 and it is one of the branches of the organization Wildlife Asia. Demelza, who has been a project coordinator at the organization since 2017, works on protecting wildlife across South-East Asia, coordinating and implementing conservation projects with local partners across several countries in the region. PARDICOLOR, an initiative of Wildlife Asia that Demelza started, , is specifically aimed at empowering artists from around the world, with a strong emphasis on those artists from underrepresented countries or those who lack funding. They are particularly interested in helping to promote artists whose work can be interpreted as artistic activism (“artivism” as it is otherwise known), simultaneously helping them to create impactful pieces of art and raising awareness for endangered wildlife and habitats as well as the factors that threaten their existence.

Photo Credit: GEREMIS Art Project are 2020 PARDICOLOR Creative Arts Fund (PCAF) grantees. These images are excerpts from paper zines ‘Mad Weave’ & ‘Solastalgia’ which explore Orang Asli (indigenous) narratives from the Malaysian Peninsula.


A good example of this that Demelza mentioned is an artist from Thailand. She explains to us: “She made a dugong sculpture from wire and reclaimed fishing nets (gathered from the ocean). This particular artist, Natalie Limwatana, uses waste material in all her work, including in her latest project which involves installing sculptures underwater for coral species to grow on.” PARDICOLOR also recently supported another woman from Chicago to create a documentary about the coral reefs in Taiwan, which is an area that doesn’t receive as much attention in terms of coral reef conservation. In time Demelza hopes to support more “artivism” projects through PARDICOLOR. At the moment most of the artists are from Asia but Demelza states that she “hopes to work with more artists from African and South American countries in the near future”.

The name PARDICOLOR itself comes from the scientific name of the Spotted Linsang (Prionodon pardicolor). This animal is a small relative of civets that has a long spotted body and tail which is found in tropical forests in India, South East Asia, Nepal and Bhutan. They are largely arboreal – tree-dwelling – hunting for prey at night in the branches of trees. The reason why Demelza chose this particular animal is because it is poorly studied; this is largely due to its small size and its nocturnal tree-dwelling habits with much of what is known about it coming from camera trap footage. Additionally, many people have never heard of it yet it is also suffering from the effects of poaching like the more iconic species such as tigers and elephants. Like so many species, the Spotted Linsang could slip into extinction unnoticed. The name PARDICOLOR is a reflection of Demelza and Tabitha’s efforts to support artists, many of whom too are largely unknown in the art world, as they create artworks that celebrate many unknown

Photo Credit: OWNW limited edition print “Do Not Forget” by Dawid Planeta, a visionary artist based in Poland. 25

Both picture credits: Laos-based graphic designer/illustrator Joséphine Billeter received grants from the PCAF in 2020 & 2022. These illustrations are excerpts from her 2022 project ‘My Home is Your Home’, a wordless picture book about sustainability, biodiversity and conservation.



Photo Credit: GEREMIS Art Project are 2020 PARDICOLOR Creative Arts Fund (PCAF) grantees. These images are excerpts from paper zines ‘Mad Weave’ & ‘Solastalgia’ which explore Orang Asli (indigenous) narratives from the Malaysian Peninsula.

Photo Credit: GEREMIS Art Project are 2020 PARDICOLOR Creative Arts Fund (PCAF) grantees. These images are excerpts from paper zines ‘Mad Weave’ & ‘Solastalgia’ which explore Orang Asli (indigenous) narratives from the Malaysian Peninsula.

Photo Credit:Leong Yoke Mee (Ammi) is an artist, illustrator and art teacher b grantee; her latest project ‘Hornbill, Honey in the Forest’ is a collaboration wi Conservation Project’ and illustrates the work of Malaysia’s first full-time Ora


based in Malaysia. Ammi is a two-time PCAF ith ‘The Malaysian Nature Society Hornbill ang Asli Hornbill Guardians.

OWNW limited edition print “Right to Thrive” by UK-based digital artist Ebrul.

Photo Credit: GEREMIS Art Project are 2020 PARDICOLOR Creative Arts Fund (PCAF) grantees. These images are excerpts from paper zines ‘Mad Weave’ & ‘Solastalgia’ which explore Orang Asli (indigenous) narratives from the Malaysian Peninsula.



Jasvic Lye is a Singaporean artist-photographer and PCAF grantee. Jasvic’s project ‘More Than Meets The Eye’ is a macrophotography series produced in collaboration with Wildlife Reserve Singapore, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum and Animal Concerns Research and Education Society.

and underappreciated species of animals around the world. It is a celebration of the natural world through the creative expression of people. There are three leading principles that underpin PARDICOLOR’s mission statement. The first one is the Right to Thrive, meaning that all creatures on this earth deserve to exist – and indeed survive – alongside humanity in the Age of the Anthropocene. The second is the Right to make Art, which means that anybody, wherever they come from and whoever they are, can be an artist and that these artists deserve to be supported. This fostering of creativity from a diversity of people and places is in itself fundamental to realizing PARDICOLOR’s vision of a healthy and sustainable Earth. The third and final principle, the Right to Know, states that every person on the planet deserves to know and experience the endless wonder and beauty of the extraordinary diversity of species that call it home, along with the habitats in which these species exist. It is these three underlying principles that shape their work and how they support artists from around the world. PARDICOLOR has helped many artists in a relatively short period of time, connecting various artists throughout the world through their funding project. In some ways then, it is almost ironic that the idea behind the organization was born


during the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, a time when we as humans were forced to physically isolate ourselves from each other. Demelza described how during lockdown, she wanted to see more art from the communities that she worked with in Thailand, Myanmar and other countries and began to think of ways of how art production could be encouraged in these areas. At first, PARDICOLOR was solely a creative arts fund, supporting nine artists in their first year. Since then, PARDICOLOR has grown significantly in a short period of time, supporting 26 individual artists and collectives. The artworks have also diversified, now including paintings, photography, filming, linocuts, wood cuts, ink drawings, sculptures and even illustrations in children’s books. The works that PARDICOLOR is representing can be found on their website, where people can buy fine art prints through the Our World Needs Wild Initiative. As PARDICOLOR is completely non-profit, the Our World Needs Wild Initiative donates all profits from print sales of the artist’s work going to Wildlife Asia to help combat illegal wildlife trade. Additionally, they also did a street campaign in the Year of the Tiger, which garnered attention. The profits gained from each series of artworks go towards supporting a different cause. For example, the Year of the Tiger series supports snare and poisoned bait removal that antipoaching units undertake to protect tigers and other species, while another series, Night of the Leopard, donates money to help in the protection of forests, in particular those areas that are home to the critically endangered Indochinese leopard. The various artists that PARDICOLOR supports portray a diverse array of species and habitats, as well as threats and issues, through their artworks. Some focus more on marine life while others depict jungle environments in their work. Many artists portray iconic species like tigers and leopards in their artworks and others still focus on a number of lesser known species like the dugong and the colugo, or the ‘flying lemur’ of Borneo. Demelza herself states that while she loves the big cats


and the works that depict them, PARDICOLOR is not only aimed at trying to inspire wildlife conservation through art, but also to encourage art itself among communities around the world. While traditional art is often still a thriving part of life in places like South East Asia, Demelza wants to try to support more non-traditional and out-ofthe-box approaches. PARDICOLOR is an organization that combines the creative expression of artists from around the world with their love for nature and the desire to see it conserved. It is fitting that the person who was inspired to create it has a love for both art

and wildlife conservation. In the future Demelza is hoping to grow PARDICOLOR to reach more artists and support more organizations and conservation initiatives. There are many avenues for an organization like this to have an impact for both conservation and in people’s lives. And Demelza, for one, is very excited for what the future holds.

The Our World Needs Wild campaign www.pardicolor.org/ourworldneedswild

Instagram @pardicolorart

Creative Arts Fund (for artists) www.pardicolor.org/creativeartsfund

Facebook @pardicolorart

Website www.pardicolor.org

Photo Credit:Leong Yoke Mee (Ammi) is an artist, illustrator and art teacher based in Malaysia. Ammi is a two-time PCAF grantee; her latest project ‘Hornbill, Honey in the Forest’ is a collaboration with ‘The Malaysian Nature Society Hornbill Conservation Project’ and illustrates the work of Malaysia’s first full-time Orang Asli Hornbill Guardians.


CONNECTED THROUGH GORILLAS HOW RESEARCH, ECOTOURISM AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COME TOGETHER IN CONSERVATION In the dense jungles of Gabon, near the small community of Doussala, people and nature live in complete harmony. It is because of “Group Nidai” (former “Group Gentil”) – a habituated group of western lowland gorillas – that this specific community is able to thrive. Gabon Untouched, a tour operator and conservation organization run by Antonio Anoro, plays an important role in the area, as his organization does more than just bring tourists to the gorillas. This is a story about a successful collaboration between local villagers, researchers, a tourist operator and mother nature.

Photo Credit: Gabon Untouched



“I realized that gorillas are perfectly capable of communicating with humans, which led me looking for an opportunity to study gorillas in Africa.” GABON UNTOUCHED Although Antonio has not been born and raised in Gabon, it is clear that he knows the people and the forest like they are his own. “I found myself, and where I wanted to be, when I set foot on Gabonese soil for the first time nine years ago,” Antonio says. “I found this country with amazing wildlife and culture, so I knew I wanted to do something here. Although at the beginning, I didn’t know what.” Certainly, the wilderness, impenetrable foliage and forest’s inhabitants – the western lowland gorillas – put a spell on him, so it didn’t take long before he took his first friends and family to the country to show them around. Now, he runs Gabon Untouched to take people like himself to unknown territory, to show them the beauty of the country and to contribute to the conservation of Gabon’s nature. Gabon Untouched focuses, as the name already reveals, on the untouched side of Gabon. Through tailor made multi-day trips, guests are invited to a world only few will see. Although visiting the gorillas in the small town of Doussala isn’t the only activity Antonio offers, the story of the gorillas and the people of Doussala is worth exploring. This is Antonio’s story about his lifelong passion for primates, local research, ecotourism and community development, and how this can


all work together in the joint mission of saving the western lowland gorilla from further decline. HOW IT STARTED Back in 2003, Japanese researcher Chieko Ando, under supervision of Professor Yamagiwa from Kyoto University, came to Doussala to study the western lowland gorillas in the area. She, just as Antonio, had a lifelong passion for primates and was eager to spend her days alongside them, to learn more and to safeguard their future. When talking to Ando, she reveals the story behind her passion: “I have loved animals since I was a child and I was always interested in animal communication. After watching the movie ‘Gorilla in the Mist,’ I realized that gorillas are perfectly capable of communicating with humans, which led me looking for an opportunity to study gorillas in Africa.” The aim of both Kyoto University and partnering organization IRET (Research Institute for Tropical Ecology) in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park was to develop a research site that would include the development of ecotourism. The research site was set up to study the gorillas’ behavior and better understand their way of life. Although environmental research, for example researching their habitat and diet, can be done without


the actual presence of the gorillas, behavioral research does require the gorillas to be present at the same moment as the researcher is there. To do so, however, a process called habituation is needed. The process makes gorillas accustomed to the presence of humans in their habitat, which requires a careful approach and patience. In order to habituate the gorillas near Doussala, Ando, other members from Kyoto University and her team of local trackers set up a jungle basecamp at the edge of the gorillas’ habitat. This camp, consisting of just a few tents covered by a natural roof, was basic to say the least. Supplies had to come from far and the jungle environment isn’t for the faint of heart. Yet, with her unstoppable passion Ando and her team used this basecamp to track the gorillas, habituate them – which took at least 5 years to accomplish – and observe them for 10 consecutive years. The initial habituation of a group of gorillas named “Group Gentil” was a big success which

enabled a broader study on the species, but it didn’t end there. Ando, who was fully immersed in her research during those 12 years living in the forest, handed over the research-reigns and shifted her focus to sustainable ecotourism to support the community. THE DEVELOPMENT OF ECOTOURISM Although Ando left Gabon in 2016, she is still closely connected to the people and the gorillas. The NGO that she is now part of, called ECOLOGIC, still plays a big role in the development of Moukalaba-Doudou National Park and the community of Doussala. As a project manager, she supports the development of sustainable community-based ecotourism financed by JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency). While her colleague Sayaka Imaoka runs things from the capital city Libreville, Ando spends her days mostly in her home country Japan. Nevertheless, she is still as connected as she once was to Gabon and she visits the gorillas once a year.

Photo Credit: Gabon Untouched


Photo Credit: Gabon Untouched



“We have to live in harmony with nature, just like the people do here.” Meanwhile, the gorilla research in Doussala is still going strong. Scientific Manager Akomo Okoué, who was born and raised in Gabon himself, now runs the IRET research station together with local guides, trackers, and fellow Gabonese and Japanese researchers. When talking to Akomo Okoué, it becomes clear that he deeply loves the place, the people and the gorillas. His dream for the future of Doussala shows that as well. “My goal for the research station is the further development of wildlife tourism, particularly for primates, which integrates the local communities even more. Additionally, my goal is to train young ecologists in the monitoring of wildlife, also particularly of primates,” Akomo Okoué states. With Akomo Okoué leading the station it is clear that well-guided research in the future is certain and that he has clear plans to further expand ecotourism to support the area and protect the gorillas.


A THRIVING COMMUNITY Thanks to Antonio, Akomo Okoué’s dream might become reality one day. Gabon Untouched has become the key gorilla tourism operator in the area bringing a steady flow of guests from all over the world. Because of this, Antonio is able to support the national park, the gorilla research as well as the local community. It is clear that he cares just as much for the people as he does for the primates. You can hear it when he speaks about Gabon and the people living here: “We need to help people find their way, with love. When we are doing what we love, magic happens. And I see Gabon as the last opportunity. The country can be a benchmark to show the world that you have to respect the people and nature. We have to live in harmony with nature, just like the people do here.”


Peter is a local who now works closely with Ando, Sayaka, Akomo Okoué, the trackers at the field station and Antonio. He is a living example that the gorillas of Doussala – and consequently researching them and starting the ecotourism site – have positively impacted his life and the community greatly. With pride he shares the story about the history of Doussala, how gorillas were once hunted during the time when logging was actively executed in the area, and how ecotourism has made such a positive change for all the local people. The community center, as well as the recently fixed bridges which connect them to civilization, showcase the successes they have been able to achieve through the created revenue. A CONNECTION BETWEEN ECOTOURISM AND CONSERVATION Although the gorillas in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park are currently not hunted down or threatened by local villagers, the past isn’t far away. It is only 30 years ago when the area was still actively logged, and the memory of gorillas being hunted down during these years of logging is still vividly ingrained in the villagers’ memory. Even though the threats for the gorillas are currently very minimal – which is a good thing – the field station in Doussala still makes an impact in safeguarding the species for the future as it provides a wonderful example for communities across the country. Ando’s words are clear: “It is the local people who conserve the nature and culture of the region, and this can only be achieved if their lives are prosperous. Research activities are not enough to enrich local people’s lives and protect nature and culture. For this reason, ecotourism development was implemented.” Through ecotourism, the

people of Doussala get a chance to prosper without ever having the need to exploit the environment. The increase in revenue makes sure that the people become less dependent on natural resources, which in turn decreases the pressure on the western lowland gorillas and their habitat.


A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR GABON’S UNTOUCHED NATURE Research, conservation, ecotourism and community development go hand in hand here, they become intertwined, and strengthen each other in the process. Antonio’s story is a great example of the positive effect of ecotourism. Besides informing his guests about the research and work that is being done at the field station, he is also able to support the area of Doussala and the people living there. Revenue from visiting tourists is directly forwarded to the protection of Moukalaba-Doudou National Park and the western lowland gorillas. And beyond that, part of the profit made is used for the community, operating the local primary school and basic health center, aiding in building the community center or fixing the bridges connecting them to civilization. With the great successes in Doussala Antonio is currently collaborating with other local communities to build up similar sites for ecotourism and conservation. If you want to know more about Gabon Untouched, or the IRET research station in Doussala, please visit their websites and perhaps even visit the western lowland gorillas in the dense forests of Gabon. You can also raise awareness in your own area about the impact of small-scale ecotourism and its importance in supporting local communities and threatened species. And if you have a deeply rooted passion for anything in life – like Antiono, Ando and Akomo Okoué’s deeply rooted connection for primates – know that it is never too late to follow your dreams, no matter what background you might have.

Instagram @gabonuntouched @ecologic_tourism Facebook @gabonuntouched Website www.gabonuntouched.com www.dynafac.org www.ecologic.or.jp


Photo Credit: Gabon Untouched

Photo Credit: Gabon Untouched

MONITORING EFFICACY OF CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION EFFORTS Effective conservation and restoration projects are essential. Drone technology has aided in tracking efficacy through before and after photos, providing essential data of what works in the process. Interestingly, drones themselves have been developed to act as agents of restoration by dropping seed payloads.



Land use change is complex with the effects on b oftentimes being unexpected. In order to get understanding of large scale changes, real-tim necessary. Drones allow for a birds-eye view of bo and negative developments, leading to a more picture of our overall trajectory in saving th biodiversity for generations to come.


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TRACKING SPECIES OF “INTEREST” The tracking of species of conservation “interest” through drone technology has led to interesting results. Census recordings have become more accurate and anti-poaching efforts more effective. Recently, drone technology has been used to discover new penguin colonies in Antarctica and track shark movement in Australia, leading to new understandings of the species.

REDUCING ILLEGAL EXTRACTIVISM Drones have allowed for formerly inaccessible, isolated, natural areas to become accessible for conservation purposes. This has resulted in drones being used to combat illegal activities such as deforestation and overfishing. In Peru, a drones-in-conservation scheme resulted in 50% reductions of deforestation of the target areas through an increase of law-enforcement effectiveness.

GENERATING FUNDS Who doesn’t enjoy seeing natural areas from a bird’s perspective? While drones are becoming very practical conservation tools, the marketing and showcasing of natural areas and the stark opposite of degraded lands has become enhanced through drone usage. Seeing the land through a drone’s perspective generates strong emotions in anyone who cares for the Earth, and for those who are able, to spend money in safeguarding its treasures.


Photo Credit: Hunter Weber


A GRADUATE’S PATH TO SUSTAINABLE TOURISM The Natural Resource Tourism Program of the Colorado State University focuses on the international aspect and multi-level factors within the tourism sector. One of the recently graduated, successful students, Hunter Weber, talks to us about all the exciting aspects of his course and how the things he has learned can benefit the future development of tourism in order to make it more sustainable and fair - for everyone involved.

Photo Credit: Hunter Weber


The Natural Resource and Global Tourism Program is a four year degree that includes a practical internship. It prepares the students for a career in the tourism sector with an emphasis on natural resources and sustainability, both locally and internationally. Other skills that are developed through the course include tourism management, marketing, business and social sciences. Hunter’s passions for traveling, wildlife, cultures, history as well as languages - he speaks French and studies dialects such as Québécois and Creole - came perfectly together in these studies. He notes: “A large portion of my studies included a global aspect, which I loved. It was about supporting tourism across the world. Likewise, it was not just about what brings people to a certain destination, but also the multi-level factors behind the tourism sector, such as its impacts on wildlife and natural resources.” During his internship in South Africa, Hunter had undertaken a project focused on the research of elephants and rhinos in enclosed reserves and the impact of tourism. He used the so-called HDNR-model to conduct his research and to deliver appropriate advice to the parties involved. HDNR – or Human Dimensions of Natural Resources – allow us to gain a better grasp of how humans and the society as a whole interact with wildlife, both locally and on an international level. Hunter adds: “One of the professors of my course, Dr. Christina Cavaliere, calls this the quadruple bottom line; it includes social, economic, sociocultural and climate change aspects. We can apply these four key lenses on different situations and observe how one specific thing, for example governance, affects each of those.” PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THE STUDIES What Hunter found particularly exciting was that he was able to put the theoretical things he learned at university into practice: “It was interesting to see who is involved in tourism and who benefits. We also learned that tourists, who for example spend money to go on safari, can aid conservation efforts.” Official certifications seem to be a big help as well: They ensure that

reserves are not purely there to generate income from tourism, but also to take care of the land and keep the animals safe. Hunter adds: “If game reserves or local nature reserves are encouraged to get certified in order to show that they are actively doing their part to protect the animal populations as well as the local communities, it will be beneficial for everyone involved.” Although keeping large animals like rhinos and elephants in an enclosed habitat is evidently not natural, it is widely believed to be an effective strategy for successful conservation and protection through the government (e.g. anti-poaching efforts). Elephants and rhinos are keystone species within their habitat and as such play a vital role for other species to thrive and survive. This is why it may be worth thinking about whether their important function remains while living in an enclosed area such as a game reserve, or if in fact other species, which are able to thrive in their absence, take over and change the landscape and interrelationships within their ecosystem forever. These are exactly the kinds of issues graduates of the Natural Resource Tourism Program could be involved with as it clearly shows the effects of tourism in connection with conservation efforts. DIFFERING PERSPECTIVES It is widely accepted that where and how people grow up will influence their perspectives. People growing up in the United States who watch documentaries on African animals such as elephants and rhinos are likely to sit on one side


SOUTH AFRICA of the spectrum. They learn that these animals are exposed to various dangers such as habitat loss, poaching and interrupted migrations due to fencing etc. So the one logical conclusion from the view of an American would be to make sure that these species are not impacted, that they are allowed to migrate and to ensure that they are not going to go extinct. This of course is a perfectly noble way of looking at things. However, it is often more complicated than that. Hunter says: “I found that a local’s perspective can differ greatly from our own view. Specifically elephants can destroy large fields of crops overnight, which might have fed a whole family as well as the surrounding community. So they are putting systems in place to keep the elephants away, for example by applying hot pepper paste all around the farm. Their personal struggle makes them look at these animals very differently – and understandably so.” Therefore, when asked about what the ideal situation would look like in terms of governance and the cooperation between different stakeholders, Hunter is eager to say that it is important to ask the question of who is sitting at the table. In many instances, the government as well as the people with money are included while the voice of marginalized communities is not heard. Locals, however, are likely to have a rich history and tradition, which means that their way of doing things needs to be accounted for as well. Hunter gives an example of a population of squid that was being overharvested: “In cases like this we need to think about how we work with those local fishers to make sure that the population of squid remains stable, but the community is being fed at the same time. This also needs to be taken into account when talking about elephants. They have to be kept safe from poaching. On the other hand, farmers need to be able to produce enough food to survive, which means they should get the necessary support for keeping the animals out of


“Their personal struggle makes them look at these animals very differently – and understandably so.” their crops. It is essential that in a conflict situation like this people are getting the education they need, but also that everyone’s voice is deemed important and therefore heard – both a bottomup and top-down approach are required to reach a healthy middle ground. Here, Hunter would also like to give credit to his former Natural Resources Human and Wildlife Interactions professor, Dr. Jon Salerno, who gave such examples throughout the course when talking about aspects of governance. SUSTAINABLE TOURISM IN THE FUTURE It is easy to see that traditional tourism is still an extremely dominant factor of the travelling industry. Major touristic, but comparatively small areas such as Venice, Italy may find it hard to

SOUTH AFRICA change. Having said that, Hunter states: “There is a lot of potential for sustainable tourism to grow. Specifically within the Gen Z population, those young people who may have gone to university, those who are active on social media platforms can have a large positive impact: For example, talking about an educational kayaking trip to learn about certain species or ecosystems on Tiktok can help promote sustainable tourism. I’m seeing a lot more of that.” Additionally, Hunter agrees that there is generally a lot more awareness regarding ecotourism, climate change and also diet choices. Offering vegetarian and vegan options at restaurants for example will undoubtedly increase and is likely to become the norm in the future. DOING BETTER AS A TOURIST Spreading awareness is often seen as a key point for successful conservation efforts. As tourists come to visit, giving them the experience they hope for, showing them the wildlife they came to see, but also offering them an educational aspect by letting them know about the threats of endangered species or other human-wildlife conflicts can lead to tourism becoming more sustainable. Whilst the government and providers of tourism experiences should all do their part, there are also things each individual visitor can do. Hunter notes: “A really important thing I’d encourage everyone to do who wants to experience an

area for a specific reason is to do their research. Trying to understand what is currently going on and where the money is going: If you are visiting a game reserve, is your money going towards supporting vulnerable species and habitats? It is also about being interested and about asking the right questions. Why are or aren’t we protecting these species? Why are the local communities upset with the elephants? This also includes trying to get an understanding of the local perspective. Learning about these things may even help us evaluate what is happening in our own country. For instance, conservationists working in African countries with similar circumstances may be able to implement such solutions back home.” Hunter is incredibly happy with his choice of study and grateful for what he was able to learn. He especially wants to highlight the professors of the Natural Resource Tourism Program who, in his words, do amazing work across the globe with a measurable positive impact. He states: “I can only hope that one day my peers and myself can have that same kind of positive global impact on ecosystems, wildlife and communities – all while making sure that everyone gets a seat at the table.”

Instagram @coloradostateuniversity Linkedin @coloradostateuniversity Facebook @coloradostateuniversity Website www.warnercnr.colostate.edu/hdnr/ undergraduate-study/b-s-naturalresource-tourism/

Photo Credit: Hunter Weber


Instagram @pusetso_nteta_photography





Instagram @pusetso_nteta_photography



Instagram @pusetso_nteta_photography


Instagram @pusetso_nteta_photography

I am Pusetso Motshwaedi and I am a wildlife photographer working at Pangolin Photo Safaris in Kasane, Botswana. Growing up in various parts of the country, I developed a passion for wildlife, photography and conservation, all of which show in all aspects of my work. My aim is for my images to tell stories that will ignite a sense of awe and inspiration to those who come across them. Beyond my photography, I am an advocate for the conservation of wildlife, wildlife habitats as well as endangered species. Having recently moved to Kasane permanently to fully embrace and immerse myself in my career, I am surrounded by everything I love, my daughter, nature and wildlife. Through my lens, not only do I share special moments in nature, but also raise awareness about the urgent need to preserve our planet’s natural treasures. I would like to invite everyone I can into a world of natural wonder and encourage you to take action in safeguarding our fragile ecosystems for generations to come.






The indigenous wildlife inhabiting the diverse landscapes of Cornwall is at the core of its unique identity. A once-thriving ecosystem is now in a state of rapid decline, with 133 species having gone extinct in the UK since 1950 and a 41% decrease in biodiversity, there has never been a more crucial time to explore the potential of rewilding. On a mission to restore Cornwall back to its state of natural beauty and thriving wildlife is Alana Scott and the Kernow Conservation team.


Photo Credit: Alana Scott

Photo Credit: Alana Scott


“THEY’RE NOW EVERYWHERE AROUND MY HOME TOWN - THE SKIES ARE FILLED WITH THEM, WHENEVER I THINK OF HOME, I THINK OF RED KITES.” ALANA’S JOURNEY With a lifelong passion for wildlife and a fascination for big cats, Alana has always been drawn to a career working to help the environment. Alana’s first spark of inspiration came from a local conservation success story when a Welsh rewilding group began a Red Kite reintroduction project in her local area, a species that was previously extinct. She recalled it being one of the most successful conservation stories she’d ever heard. She adds, “They’re now everywhere around my home town - the skies are filled with them, whenever I think of home, I think of red kites.” Alana has since been driven to bridge the gap between social and environmental problems, aiming to take a community-led approach with Kernow Conservation. Throughout the course of her career so far, Alana has started seeing the broader picture of how everything works together and strongly believes in humanity and nature working together in tandem. Originally a team of like-minded volunteers with the goal of pursuing a wilder Cornwall, Kernow Conservation was founded by David Carrier, a Conservation Biology and Ecology student – aptly named after the Cornish word for Cornwall. In 2021 Alana, also a student at the time joined the group who was working alongside a local landowner to create and manage habitats for Marsh Fritillary butterflies, an endangered native species. The project involved clearing scrub and planting Devil’s-Bit Scabious plants where the species lay eggs and feed.

Soon after joining the group, Alana connected with the Mossy Earth team, securing the funding to begin a water vole reintroduction project. A fitting next step – as the landowner from the Marsh Fritillary project had the ideal habitat for water voles, with streams and ponds throughout the land. As a result of this project, Kernow Conservation began to grow rapidly and soon decided to gain status as a registered Community Interest Group (C.I.C) - a form of non-profit organization. REINTRODUCTION OF SPECIES The UK is one of the least biodiverse countries on the globe, having lost many keystone species and the majority of predators - directly impacting native ecosystems. Government efforts such as culling are in place, but they are not enough to make genuine change. The reintroduction of large predators, such as wolves, would make a greater impact. However, there are many social barriers and a lack of wild space remaining. Reintroduction projects with smaller predators/ species across the UK are vital for restoring ecosystems. A significant factor of these projects is engaging the public to build community support and funding. Water voles, which were declared extinct from Cornwall in the 1990s (until 2014 - when they were reintroduced in North Cornwall), are a keystone species, meaning their extinction had a direct impact on the Cornish ecosystem. Being a prey animal, their presence attracts predators and ultimately increases biodiversity in the local area.


Photo Credit: Joe Marshall

ENGLAND The grazing and burrowing activity of water voles also increases biodiversity in the local area. Grazing on up to 227 different plant species, they are responsible for changing the composition and structure of plants and their burrowing activity increases the microbes in soil. These unique and game-changing traits have water voles dubbed as “ecosystem engineers”. Quickly after gaining funding, the group began carrying out habitat assessments to ensure the habitat was viable enough for a water vole reintroduction. One factor of this was assessing the presence of American Mink, an invasive species in the UK, which would be problematic as they are a small invasive predator, that fit in water vole burrows - killing water voles and their young. The assessment was carried out by setting camera traps and setting up mink rafts – a monitor which encourages mink to leave evidence of their presence by leaving footprints. It took around eight months to gain sufficient data, ensuring there was no American Mink presence. As water voles need to consume 80% of their body weight every day an important factor of the habitat assessment phase was ensuring there was enough variety of plants to sustain water vole grazing activity. Another contributing factor is space and interconnectivity. Female water voles are highly territorial creatures requiring up to 150 metres of territory for them to colonise and avoid killing one another. Interconnectivity of habitats is just as important for a successful reintroduction as it allows for wider dispersal and colonisation. When beginning a reintroduction project, public engagement and support can greatly affect the success of the project. If the public is emotionally invested in the cause and the project is receiving media attention it is much more likely to gain funding and be supported by the locals which are vital components in continuing the project through to the final stages. Unfortunately, Alana states, less charismatic species tend to get less funding, attention and support. As a communityfocused initiative, public engagement and support are a must for Kernow Conservation projects. After determining the habitat was viable, the team sourced water voles from a prominent UK breeder, Derek Gow – the primary source for


wildlife breeding for reintroduction programmes. Working closely with Derek and his team, pens containing families and groups were evenly spread throughout the habitat, and in September 2022 the first of the water vole releases commenced. With a combination of hard releases – for the purposes of press, community engagement and a documentary filmmaker – and soft releases, which help the species better acclimatise to their new habitats, 114 water voles were released. Alana recalls upon release the natural instincts of the water voles seemed to kick in almost immediately beginning by swimming away and hiding in the habitats plant life – a positive sign. The continued monitoring of the species is showing signs of success with camera traps placed downstream picking up activity indicating the water voles are further colonising and dispersing. Continuing to work closely with the

“THERE IS STILL MUCH WORK TO BE DONE, BUT ALANA AND THE KERNOW CONSERVATION TEAM ARE MAKING A GREAT START.” breeder, they then conducted a second release of 70-80 more water voles in June 2023. The Kernow Conservation team aim to continue working on this project and, with further support, see more success in their mission of pursuing a wilder Cornwall.


Photo Credit: Joe Marshall


Photo Credit: Joe Marshall

Photo Credit: Alana Scott

Photo Credit: Joe Marshall


GREAT THINGS ON THE HORIZON Kernow Conservation is a small team with big ambitions in their pursuit of a wilder Cornwall. With support, these ambitions could become reality. Kernow Conservation can be supported by making donations and securing business partnerships. Funding is a crucial part of maintaining and growing the organisation with currently only one full-time member of the team. Securing sufficient funding would allow the remaining team to dedicate their resources and scale their impact. Other ways you can support them is by following and engaging with them on their social platforms, signing up for their newsletter and joining their personal membership scheme which is launched on October 20th and includes perks. If you are local to Cornwall and would like to get involved, be sure to follow them on social media to watch out for opportunities. For those who would like to make a difference in their local community, Alana advises getting involved in local groups in your community. There are so many community groups out there. Some can be difficult to find but most local communities will have some form of community group, many with a wildlife focus. It’s such a rewarding activity and gives you a sense of belonging and purpose within your local community.

In the future Alana would like to continue scaling the impact of Kernow Conservation – continuing her work with water voles and potentially more regenerative agriculture and more species reintroductions while helping people get more in touch with their communities and supporting the development of communities driving change. Alana Scott and the Kernow Conservation team are an inspiration for many with their impactful work restoring Cornwall’s natural beauty and thriving wildlife. Their journey is a testament to the power of community-led initiatives and the importance of restoring biodiversity. There is still much work to be done, but Alana, David Carrier and Sophie Jackson have made a great start.

Instagram @kernowconservation Linkedin @kernow-conservation Facebook @kernowconservation Website www.kernowconservation.org


COLOFON DIRECTOR Manon Verijdt ART DIRECTOR Arina van Londen


GRAPHIC DESIGNER Mirjam May Arina van Londen

ILLUSTRATOR Renée Balsters

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT Thijs Montalvo Chelsea Whittingham Cara Blackburn Patrizia Baldi Callum Evans Boglárka Miskolczi Mary Swing SOCIAL MEDIA Mira de Winter Mirjam May

CONTRIBUTED TO THIS EDITION Alana Scott, Demelza Stokes, Tabitha Stokes, Pusetso Nteta, Antonio Anoro, Chieko Ando, Sayaka Imaoka, Akomo Akoue, Huib Wesselman van Helmond, Willem van Liemt Thomas van Meeuwen, Jan Stoop, Hunter Weber and thanks to all contributing photographers!

CONTACT DETAILS UBUNTU MAGAZINE: partnerships@ubuntumagazine.com | advertising@ubuntumagazine.com www.ubuntumagazine.com


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