Women conservation warriors back home again
AFTER 50 days and travelling
11 235km through four countries, South African humanitarian and ecowarrior, Carla Geyser, has returned from leading a successful international all-women conservation mission into southern Africa.
Geyser’s ‘Journeys with Purpose:
The Rise of the Matriarch’ expedition linked South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to 12 women from around the world.
The journey kicked off on 16 September under the banner of Geyser’s non-profit organisation, Blue Sky Society Trust.
The mission had four goals - raise global awareness about the contentious human-wildlife conflict issue, to educate the youth about conservation, to support local empowerment efforts targeting young women from localised, rural communities, and to raise funds for four wildlife conservation bodies.
These beneficiaries were Elephants Alive (South Africa), Rare and Endangered Species Trust (Namibia), Eco-Exist Project (Botswana) and the Soft Foot Alliance Trust (Zimbabwe).
Beautiful, brutal landscape
Reflecting on the journey, Geyser says, ‘Mama Africa takes your breath away with her magnificent sunsets and sunrises, leaves you speechless at her amazing wildlife and her boundless energy, and reawakens emotions that you thought had long since disappeared.
‘Yet, amidst all this splendour, there is a sad, ugly reality – a festering wound of poaching, over-population, poverty and human-wildlife conflict.’
‘The figures are alarming, with poachers killing approximately two rangers every week in Africa.
‘They also kill on average three rhinos, 98 elephants and countless pangolin every single day.
It is this harsh, cold reality that spurred Geyser into action.
In the seven weeks that followed, Geyser and her crew distributed 30 000 educational booklets, visited 13 on-theground conservation projects and met 16 phenomenal women who are doing incredible conservation work at a grassroots level.
‘So many lifelong memories were made on the journey,’ said Geyser, ‘but a few stand out more than others.
‘Meeting the world famous Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit here in SA was one of my favourites’, says Geyser.
‘Spending time with the Eco-Exist educators and community officers in rural schools in the eastern panhandle of Botswana to learn about their daily challenges with elephants that raid crops and subsequent injuries and deaths of local community members, was also memorable.’ Animals up close KZN’s Celokuhle ‘Smax’ Biyela said, ‘I learnt so much on my trip, starting with our visit to Wild is Life and meeting Roxy Danckwerts and Angela Loubser where I got to see my first elephant, giraffe, lion and pangolin.’
The conservation mission wrapped up on 28 October.
For Geyser, being back home means time to reflect and then plan the next ‘Journey with Purpose’.
One of the highlights for the team was interacting with rescued elephants at the Wild Is Life sanctuary in Harare, Zimbabwe
Expedition members Emily Scott, Tommi Wolfe, Carla Geyser and Jennifer Palmer with Vera Praet, Ronny Makukule and Robin Cook from the Elephants Alive project in South Africa