A healthy planet and an equitable world that values and sustains diversity of all life.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is dedicated to conserving threatened species and ecosystems in southern Africa to the benefit of all people.
Who we are
The EWT is a leading, high-profile player in the arena of conservation. We identify the key factors threatening biodiversity and develop innovative methodologies and best practice guidelines to reduce these and promote harmonious co-existence and sustainable living for both people and wildlife. We achieve our goals through specialist programmes, and our skilled field staff are deployed regionally and throughout southern Africa.
The EWT is registered as a Non-Profit Organisation, registration number 015-502 NPO and PBO Registration No 930 001 777. The EWT is 501 (c) (3) compliant, US IRS Reg. EMP98-0586801. The EWT is a proud member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the United Nations Global Compact.
What we do
Biodiversity conservation has moved from the fringes of social priorities into the centre of political discourse and socio-economic concern. People around the world can no longer ignore the fact that the environment in which we live underpins every single human need, demonstrated every day by both the losses of thousands of lives due to environmental disasters or the lack of access to quality natural resources, as well as by the dependence of millions of lives on their natural surroundings for their sustainability.
As one of South Africa’s leading biodiversity conservation organisations, the EWT is striving to facilitate the protection and sustainable use of key ecosystems. The EWT has a cohesive and integrated approach to the conservation of species, habitats and ecosystem processes and we therefore focus much of our work on protecting both threatened species and habitats. Successful conservation thus means protecting the habitats that support species – and human beings – and in this way entire ecosystems, communities and socio-economic structures reap the benefits.
The EWT believes that sustainable conservation requires inclusive approaches, to not only address biodiversity objectives, but also the interests of the people and industries relying on the ecosystems services. This we do by developing innovative and adaptive conservation and management solutions, aligned and compatible with the broader economic and social imperatives of the region.
About the Endangered Wildlife Trust
Environmental degradation, including climate change, desertification, deforestation and the loss of biodiversity, is one of the biggest challenges our generation faces. These threats put at risk not only our natural resources, but the legacy of a secure environment for future generations. As your business works towards building a positive future for future generations, we invite you to join us in investing in the future of our planet and its people.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust is one of the oldest and most well-respected conservation organisations in southern Africa. Through our varied specialist programmes, some of which have been running for over 40 years, we are able to identify key threats to our environment and its precious wildlife and reduce these threats by developing innovative strategies combined with established best practices. We fill the key niche of implementing conservation action through applied field work, research and direct engagement with stakeholders.
We have a strong track record of working with Corporate South Africa and are proud of our relationships with corporates that date back to the early days of the EWT. These relationships are essential for achieving our Vision and Mission. Through various strategic partnerships, operational engagements and project sponsorships, we have achieved tangible results such as the securing of protected areas, the creation of alternative livelihoods to protect key habitats, the training and development of hundreds of emerging conservationists from previously disadvantaged households, the mitigation of threats posed by electricity infrastructure, the turnaround in the decline of Endangered species such as Wattled Cranes, and the training of law enforcement officials and prosecutors to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.
By aligning yourself with one of the country’s leading conservation entities, your company is playing an active role as a good corporate citizen and supports the most important capital base of our country. Our corporate partners are collectively working to ensure that the natural heritage and resources of our country are sustained for future generations. We are proudly South African with a track record steeped in establishing successful conservation partnerships, we share your love of our African heritage and are committed to conserving the natural world that underpins it.
Illegal rhino poaching continues to increase despite a corresponding increase in arrests. Approximately 595 rhinos were poached in the Kruger National Park alone since January 2015. Most of the horns taken from these animals are smuggled illegally into countries such as China and Vietnam, where they are consumed as a medicinal product or used as a status symbol.
There are many projects across the world addressing various aspects of the rhino poaching crisis. What sets us apart is that our rhino conservation project addresses the various issues in a multi-faceted way, implementing projects along the entire poaching chain (from poacher to end-user) for maximum impact.
• Placement of anti-poaching and sniffer dogs in reserves and at airports.
• Working closely with communities in areas where poachers are thought to reside.
• Training of law-enforcement officials.
• Providing support to private reserves.
• Demand-reduction activities.
Wild Dogs are the most endangered carnivore in South Africa, with a population of less than 450, of which 200 individuals live in the Kruger National Park. Cheetahs are the second most threatened carnivore; with a population of 700.The Kruger National Park and Kgalagadi National Park are the two most important strongholds for the species. Wild Dogs and Cheetahs represent an incredibly important part of the carnivore group in South Africa. Firstly, due to the fact that these animals require large amounts of habitat, we automatically conserve other species, including larger carnivores, when we conserve Wild Dogs and Cheetahs. Secondly, these carnivores play a vital role in eliminating weak or sick individuals, which keeps populations of prey species fit and strong. Thirdly, the extinction of Wild Dogs and Cheetahs would create unmanaged growth of the populations of their prey species, which would lead to damage in the ecosystems people rely on for natural resources.
Over the past 10 years we have reintroduced Wild Dogs and Cheetahs into small fenced reserves across South Africa to ensure that viable populations exist outside of the Kruger National Park. This has been one of the most successful reintroduction programmes of its kind and has resulted in more than 200 Wild Dogs occurring in 18 packs in 10 reserves, and 300 Cheetahs in 54 reserves. We are also engaging with land-owners and communities to educate them. As a result, many farmers have adopted more positive attitudes and now have camera traps set up on their farms to send us images of these carnivores on their properties.
African Crane Conservation
The African Crane Conservation Programme is a partnership programme between the Endangered Wildlife Trust and the International Crane Foundation (ICF). We empower individuals and organisations to develop conservation activities and promote the sustainable use and wise management of wetland, grassland and Karoo ecosystems upon which our crane species depend. Cranes are spectacular, graceful, long-lived birds that have captivated the imaginations of thousands for millennia. The lifelong devotion demonstrated by mating pairs has resulted in them being symbols of peace, happiness and longevity. South Africa’s Blue Crane is prized as a symbol of royalty and only Zulu Kings are allowed to wear the feathers in their headdress. Not surprisingly then, the Blue Crane is South Africa’s national bird. However, this national bird with plumes fit for a king is disappearing, along with our Wattled Cranes, Grey and Black Crowned Cranes. We are working tirelessly to ensure that these deceptively fragile birds remain a beautiful part of the African landscape for many more years to come.
We work to conserve the following crane species:
• Blue Cranes
• Grey Crowned Cranes
• Wattled Cranes
Thanks to our efforts, we have recently recorded the largest number of Wattled Cranes in 25 years!
Birds of Prey Conservation
Raptors control the numbers of small mammals, including pests and problem species such as dassies, hares and rodents that compete with domestic livestock for grazing resources. A Black-shouldered Kite and its mate, for example, will catch over 1 800 rodents each year. Owls are extremely efficient nocturnal predators with well-adapted eyesight and hearing, and mostly hunt rats, mice and insects, controlling these pests in towns and on farms. One pair of Barn Owls with six chicks will catch 30 rodents per night – a total of 3000 prey items in three months. Scavenging raptors, including vultures, Tawny Eagles and Bateleurs, clean the carcasses of dead livestock, thus alerting farmers to livestock deaths. This rapid disposal of carcasses and afterbirth assists in combating the spread of diseases, such as anthrax, and helps to maintain farm hygiene. Because they can find and consume carcasses very quickly, vultures also control blow-fly infestations on rotting carcasses.
We initiated Vulture Awareness Day in September, and this day has now been adopted internationally, with 167 organisations from 36 countries participating. We have also played a key role in pioneering interventions such as vulture restaurants and educating land-owners to prevent the persecution of raptors.
The Drylands Conservation Programme works to ensure the survival of unique and/or threatened dryland species, such as the Critically Endangered Riverine Rabbit, and associated critical habitats by implementing sound conservation programmes in dryland ecosystems. We use effective restoration techniques to improve biodiversity, habitat and ecosystem services whilst simultaneously providing socio-economic upliftment opportunities for rural communities. Our awareness activities target farmers, farm workers and their families, school learners, teachers, and the general public in order to provide the public with knowledge and empower them to make a difference in Riverine Rabbit conservation efforts. In the past year we have added 100 hectares of Karoo vegetation to our restoration efforts. In doing so, the EWT’s Karoo indigenous nursery has so far grown some 3,000 plants for our restoration sites and we have created 229 days of employment for the impoverished Loxton community.
Source to Sea Conservation
We are dedicated to the conservation and improvement of healthy, functional freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems that support a variety of marine species, as well as the people who rely on them. We apply evidence-based conservation action, achieved through high-impact field projects based on our holistic and innovative programme strategy. We include socio-economic upliftment opportunities such as the creation of micro-enterprises and create opportunities for underprivileged communities to participate in the green economy. We are also establishing environmental education initiatives in underprivileged schools through the Eco-Schools initiative. We are rehabilitating key estuaries around the country in collaboration with local communities. The activities of this programme extend into Mozambique, where we have initiated law enforcement activities and we are exploring alternative livelihoods for communities in order to protect the endangered Dugong population.
The training and skills development initiatives of the EWT largely focuses on those agencies responsible for biodiversity protection and management, but also aims to include programmes targeting students from tertiary institutions, private companies and individuals. In addition, the EWT-SDP also manages the EWT’s status as registered training service provider under the auspices of CATHSSETA, the sector education and training authority responsible for conservation training standards in South Africa. In the past year, Fifty-two officials from mixed enforcement agencies attended the Wildlife Trade Law Compliance and Enforcement training programme, and approximately 80 officials from various enforcement agencies attended the South African Cycad Enforcement training programme.
Threatened Amphibian Programme
Although small and seldom seen, frogs are important in many ways:
• Amphibians are crucial in the food-chain through their role as both predator and prey; they consume vast numbers of insects (including pests and disease vectors such as mosquitoes) and provide food to a wide range of animals.
• As tadpoles they have an important function in keeping waterways clean by feeding on algae.
• They are good bioindicators due to their biphasic life cycles and sensitive skins; the fact that one third of all species are threatened should be an important warning to humans that our global environment is in jeopardy.
• Some species provide important human medicines from skin secretions.
We aim to implement specific conservation to tackle direct threats to South Africa’s most threatened frog species. We are bridging the gap between academic research and conservation action, and we are raising public awareness about the importance and plight of frogs through education and public initiatives.
In addition to providing crucial ecosystem services, such as natural water filtration and flood attenuation, wetlands are important habitat to many frog species (and much other life as well).
Threatened Grasslands Species Programme
In South Africa, grasslands are one of the most threatened ecosystems, with only 2.04% formally conserved and more than 60% already irreversibly transformed. The highland grasslands in Mpumalanga are not only diverse wild plant and animal life, but are also the ‘water factories’ in South Africa. The grasslands act like a sponge, holding the water as ground water or in wetlands and releasing it slowly throughout the year (including the dry season). This system is responsible for most of the water flowing through the Vaal River, which is a critical water source for South Africa.
Before we even notice that our water resources have been destroyed, we will first see the loss of many threatened species that live only in grasslands and in some cases, occur nowhere else in the world. Two examples of these are the Sungazer Lizard and Botha’s Lark both of which occur only in the grasslands of southern Mpumalanga and north eastern Free State. By conserving the grasslands for these species, we will ensure that people have access to fresh water in the future.
We work with the landowners in these areas to take better care of the animals and plants on their land and in this way ensuring that water will be available to the rest of the population. The landowners are passionate about their land and ensuring not only financial productivity but also long-term sustainability and biodiversity conservation.
Urban Conservation Project
Faced with ever increasing urbanisation, it has become necessary to consider cities and other urban areas as sites requiring integration into conservation efforts. This is particularly true of areas inhabited by indigenous wildlife such as birds and bats that have adapted to living in and around man-made buildings and infrastructure. While such adaptations are beneficial to the animals’ ability to survive in urban settings, these urban-adapted species are also in a particularly vulnerable position to human conflict and persecution due to their close proximity to humans. Humans can also find themselves in vulnerable positions when they come into contact with potentially dangerous animals or are exposed to wildlife carriers of disease. Wildlife in our cities is, however, fundamental in maintaining the integrity of the natural ecosystem processes that provide us with services required for our survival such as water and clean air. The natural environment is also vitally important for our mental and emotional wellbeing, providing us with spaces for recreational, cultural and spiritual activities.
The main goal of this project is to provide tools and support for the sustainable management of the human-wildlife interface within the urban matrix of Gauteng and create a better city for both
National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN)
The National Biodiversity and Business Network (NBBN) was launched on 15 May 2013 by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Nedbank Limited, Hatch Goba, De Beers, Transnet, Pam Golding Properties and Pick n Pay.
The aim of the Network is to assist businesses from various sectors to integrate and mainstream biodiversity issues into their strategies and operations. It is designed to be an open and inclusive association of likeminded organisations that have recognised the need to raise awareness of, and stimulate conversation about, biodiversity issues amongst the business community.
The Network objectives are as follows:
• Provide a national platform to facilitate strategic discussions about biodiversity and business.
• Create national momentum about mainstreaming biodiversity considerations into businesses.
• Facilitate the development of a national agenda in terms of biodiversity and business.
• Facilitate cohesion and integration in the discussion and agenda about biodiversity and business.
• Facilitate focused, pragmatic and useful interventions to support businesses in the mainstreaming process.
Wildlife and Energy Programme
Energy and communications infrastructure such as power lines, power stations, wind turbines, telephone lines, cellphone towers, and pipe lines represent an important interface between man and wildlife, particularly in SA’s growing economy. These structures are often tall (standing out in any landscape) and linear (crossing vast distances), increasing the opportunity for wildlife interactions.
Most of these structures are located outside of protected areas, making ‘traditional’ conservation authorities inadequate in managing interactions. We play an essential role in ensuring that the impacts of the infrastructure on our wildlife is kept to an absolute minimum. The EWT-WEP’s largest project is the Eskom–EWT Strategic Partnership. Our Eskom strategic partnership saw the development and adoption of best practice guidelines for wind energy facilities, and the inclusion of bird friendly structures in the utility’s biodiversity standards. At Sere Wind Farm the EWT is conducting post-construction surveys according to the guidelines developed by EWT/BLSA. Both the energy industry and government adopted guidelines developed jointly by the EWT – government now uses these guidelines in environmental management plans for facilities.
Wildlife and Trade Programme
We work to reduce the illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products through various initiatives including capacity building among law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, working with communities impacted by wildlife crime, cooperation and strategy development with other conservation NGOs, commenting on proposed legislation, and support for various rhino conservation initiatives. We provided extensive comments on 11 draft and amended legislation documents, including: provincial procedures, policies and norms and standards; national species strategies and action plans; species-specific Non-Detriment Findings; national regulations and Acts. Up to as many as 90% of our comments were accepted and incorporated, indicating that we have a valuable role to play in shaping South Africa’s suite of environmental legislation. Our support and advice to Magistrate Prince Manyathi and Advocate Marilè van Heerden played an important role in the sentencing of Mr. Chumlong Lemtongtai in November 2013. A Thai citizen, Mr. Lemtongtai was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment for rhino related crimes. We provided information on the increasing rates of rhino poaching, the increasing involvement of Thai citizens in the illegal trading in rhino horns and the devastating effect on our rhino populations.
Wildlife and Roads Programme
Wildlife mortality resulting from vehicle collisions has been recognised as a threat to wildlife, although the extent is unknown. For example, roads cross a variety of landscapes from urban developments to agricultural farm land and wildlife conservation areas, often bringing vehicles into conflict with wildlife. Incidents with all forms of transport (planes, trains, automobiles and marine shipping) are also common although grossly under reported. To date, little attention has been paid to some of these concerns and even less has been done to address the overall threat in southern Africa. South Africa is one of the most biologically diverse country on Earth and hosts a multitude of species and habitats, many of which are unique. With populations of many vertebrate species coming under increasing pressure from human development, the demand for rapid, resourceful methods of recognising the latent threat caused by transport is becoming more urgent in South Africa We are conducting risk assessments (including research projects to inform the identification, quantification and prioritisation of risks), developing best practices, putting mitigation measures in place and conducting training and capacity building activities.