Our Pillars of Conservation
Since 2002, Worldwide Experience has been involved in supporting conservation work in various ways. Firstly, our team assisted with the development of several of the projects in our portfolio. Secondly, we expanded our portfolio in line with our vision to diversify our outreach by partnering with various NGOs and growing our conservation network. All project partners were vetted to ensure they share our ethos of making a difference ethically and authentically. Lastly, we made these conservation initiatives accessible to students and volunteers as travel experiences. Our travellers reconnect with nature, learn about the importance of conservation and leave inspired to do their bit in the preservation of our natural world.
Conservation of the planet’s remaining wilderness areas, ecosystems and biodiversity is crucial to the livelihoods of all species on earth, including our own. Beyond this fact, the question lies in how to go about restoring and protecting habitats, plants and animals.
Our holistic conservation approach is aimed at integrating our four primary pillars: Ecosystems, Community, Sustainability and Education. If one pillar is absent, the rest will be compromised.
We work to conserve natural habitats and their species. Of particular focus is the preservation of biodiversity; the more diverse the life in an ecosystem, the more resilient and adaptable that ecosystem will be. Wildlife has been facing accelerated extinction due to human activities, and every time a species goes extinct, the web of life is weakened. It’s not only the species that is lost but the relationships that the species has with the rest of the ecosystem, it has a ripple effect.
We believe it is our human responsibility to protect endangered and threatened species and the habitats critical to their survival. One of the greatest threats to many species is the widespread destruction of habitat. The best way to protect endangered species is to protect the special places where they live. Wildlife must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. As more wildlife habitat is encroached by people, more human-wildlife conflict happens.
Once wildlife has come into conflict with people, their best hope is being rehabilitated in a wildlife sanctuary for release back into the wild. As far as possible, we support wild animals staying in the wild. For the sanctuaries we support where animals, unfortunately, cannot be returned to the wild (either because they’re too injured or habituated to people), we know that our sanctuaries’ practice meets the standards of animal welfare best practice.
Our goal of reconnecting people with nature extends from local communities where our work is done to our volunteers travelling to make a difference with us, and beyond.
Local communities specifically are vital to the success of any conservation effort. We support our NGO partner the CCFA (Community Conservation Fund Africa), specialising in this area of work. The CCFA strives to support these communities through environmental and economic education programmes. This helps to cultivate community leaders who feel empowered and inspired to change the fate of the planet from one that is driven by greed and a scarcity mindset, to one guided by a unified awareness towards abundance, through sustainability.
Included in our Worldwide Experience community are our alumni, without whom we wouldn’t be able to achieve our work. It is through the funding and help from our travellers that we can continue to support our projects and partners in achieving meaningful conservation.
We apply the concept of sustainability at all tiers. On the environmental level, we focus on reducing and avoiding the depletion of natural resources and the preserving biodiversity to maintain an ecological balance. At a project level, the facilities and operations are planned to minimise any negative impacts. Most of the projects recycle waste, including greywater, recyclable items (tins, plastic, paper) and compost for the organic food gardens. Produce from these food gardens is used in our kitchens and communities. Some projects even have indigenous tree nurseries, the trees being used for environmental restoration.
In the broader scope, our approach is to achieve sustainability of the projects themselves. Projects, in time are ideally managed by the local community following the training and upskilling over the early years. We then continue to provide opportunities not only for employment but also for entrepreneurial endeavours. A great example lies in our Conserving Black Rhinos project at the Nakavango Conservation Centre in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Led by our current director, the programme was developed from the ground up, then staffed. Staff received on the job training from housekeeping to safari guiding. The doors opened in 2013 to volunteers. By the end of 2015, we were able to pull back completely from providing operations and management support, with our partnership continuing purely on a volunteer recruitment basis. To this day, most of the original staff are still thriving at Nakavango.
It is education on which the other three pillars depend. Ecosystem conservation and restoration rely on the expertise of biologists, ecologists, zoologists, veterinarians and the like. At the community level, education is a tool of empowerment. We work to help ensure access for children to basic education, improve environmental awareness of the locally key issues, host workshops aimed at exploring the different perspectives in search of the best solutions, and work with education partners to provide bursaries to promising students. Usually, these bursaries are aimed at the hospitality industry, resulting in graduates being offered internships and later employment at game lodges or camps in their area. This serves to keep the bread-winners in their local community, uplifting the community further.
Our volunteers and students learn about a huge variety of conservation issues, picking up knowledge every step of the way on their journey with us. Finally, at every level, education about conservation and care of the planet is infused into all that we do – no species can thrive without our life-giving planet being healthy.
Click below to find out more:
About Conservation Volunteering