“The future of wildlife and the habitat that they depend on is being destroyed. It is time to make nature and all the beauty living within it our priority.” - Paul Oxton
The experiences we create aren’t just about the photographic opportunities, the accommodation and the overall experience, our desire to effect change runs a lot deeper than that.
At Wild Eye, we are firm believers in the conservation and protection of the incredible wild places that we are so fortunate to enjoy alongside our guests. Over the years we have initiated and participated in several initiatives aimed at making a positive impact in various parts of the world.
Part of our dedication to conservation and social upliftment involves the empowerment of the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting these wildlife areas so that we may enjoy them for generations to come.
The Lion King Panthera Fundraiser (2019)
As part of the worldwide premier of the Lion King released worldwide on July 19 2019, Wild Eye, in conjunction with Panthera, hosted an exclusive premiere of this exciting movie event in the interests of raising awareness of the plight of lions across the African continent. Proceeds from both the tickets to attend the premiere event as well as proceeds from a raffle to win a trip for two to the Wild Eye Mara Camp (worth $ 6 950) saw a total of $ 16 000 being raised and handed over to DR Paul Funston, Panthera’s southern African Regional Director.
Panthera is the only organization in the world devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s wild cats. Our team of leading biologists and law enforcement experts develop innovative strategies to address the dire threats facing cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards, and tigers. We are on the front lines, fighting to stop poaching, prevent conflict with people, conserve wild cat habitats, and reduce unsustainable legal hunting. These proven strategies don’t just protect wild cats—they also protect their vast landscapes and the endless variety of life within them. These wild places are crucial to our planet’s health—and our own.
The Mara Conservancy Mara Photo Academy
In June of 2018, Wild Eye in partnership with Olympus South Africa, hosted the first ever Wildlife Photo Academy for the men and women rangers of the Mara Triangle Conservancy. Hosted at the Wild Eye Mara Camp, the course was split into two separate groups of three days each comprising of daily lectures, practical exercises in camp, and in the field practical application of the course material.
Olympus South Africa donated 6 mirrorless cameras, telephoto zoom lenses, and wide angle lenses to be used not only for the duration of the academy, but also to be utilised by the Mara Conservancy in their ongoing daily efforts to prevent illegal poaching, promote conservation and to ensure safe and sustainable eco-tourism in the Mara Triangle.
The Academy was a major success, and was in many ways the beginning of an important relationship between Wild Eye and the Conservancy centred on conservation and the protection of the Mara Triangle
Madikwe Game Reserve Conservation Safaris (2011-2013)
Over the years Wild Eye have been involved in facilitating a number of conservation activities in the Madikwe Game Reserve. This range from replacing tracking collars on lions, to notching and chipping of white and black rhino. Guests that have joined us for these initiatives have, through their participation in the safari, covered the costs of the veterinary fees, helicopter fees and the purchase of GPS/Satellite collars. Whilst the opportunities to contribute directly to these conservation activities have decreased significantly in recent years, Wild Eye is proud to have supported these activities during the early stages of our existence.
Kajiado Village Rainwater Collection System (2014)
In 2014 Wild Eye facilitated the construction and implementation of a rain water collection system and water tank at a Maasai village in Kajiado, Kenya. With water being an important and hard to come by commodity in this remote part of Africa, this initiative has made a huge impact on the people of the village as well as that of the surrounding communities. With the kind donation and support of one of very regular clients, the system was installed over a three day period which culminated in a ceremony attended by all the elders from the surrounding areas in celebration of the new, exciting addition to the village and a change of life for many families who will benefit from easy access to one of life’s most precious resources.
The Save The Mara Conservancy Campaign (2020)
Due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions, the Conservancy is currently not receiving any income from the park fees that drive their revenue.
Wild Eye, through the support of our incredible guests, raised a phenomenal $45k in donations to help support the incredible team of the Mara Conservancy.
The Hwange Lion Conservation Safari (2018 and 2019)
The concept of the safari was simple. Gather a group of people who were interested in adding a conservation education and contribution element to their safari experience. Hwange National Park was the perfect site for this safari given how local communities, private safari operators and the National Park interact and how so many of the threats facing Lions (illegal bushmeat trade, habitat loss and fragmentation, unsustainable trophy hunting, and conflict with local people due to the real or perceived threat lions pose to livestock) are present in this system.
Together, guests who have joined the two departures of this safari along with Wild Eye have donated a total of $15 000 to a number of benefactors in and around the Hwange National Park. These include the Mother Africa Trust, The Soft Foot Alliance, The Long Shield Lion Guardians, Panthera, Scorpions Anti Poaching Unit and the Children in the Wilderness.
A unique aspect of this safari experience is that the vast majority of the donations were physically handed over by the guests. Items like bicycles, tents, uniforms, solar panels and inverters, binoculars, bird books and materials for the construction of lion-proof bomas ensured that guests knew exactly where their money had been spent and that it wasn’t simply a donation made to cover operational costs and overheads of the projects.
Sinking of a Borehole in The Mara Conservancy
Due to the close knit relationship that we have with the management of the Mara Conservancy, we do have regular discussions with them and much of these relate to ideas sharing and how Wild Eye can add value and assist in their ongoing efforts to ensure that they maintain their reserve as one of the leading game reserves in the world.
During one of these discussions, they mentioned they were looking to install a borehole and identified a position in the northern sector of the reserve near Ololoolo gate. In previous times, the rangers and staff had relied on drawing water from wells and rainwater collected from the rooves of the staff accommodation, which was diverted into water tanks. As you can appreciate that, during dry times the wells dried up, the water tanks would be empty, which resulted in them having to drive long distances to access water.
The tour operators that occupied the camp sites were also faced with the same problem, such as ourselves.
We immediately agreed to assist them and sponsor the installation of a borehole, but requested that it could be drilled in the southern section of the park, close to the Wild Eye Mara camp and the Mara Bridge rangers station. After agreeing, we went ahead with the process, which included appointing a contractor, conducting hydrological satellite surveys, on site surveys to determine the best possible site to drill and ensure that we would drill into an aquifer that would give a high and sustainable water yield.
The drilling commenced in July 2019. The site we had chosen was convenient for the Mara Conservancy staff and for tour operators and campers to collect, but wasn’t that cost effective from the cost of the drilling – we eventually found an aquifer at 260 metres and USD 32 000 later!
But the waterflow was fantastic – between 12 000 – 15 000 litres per hour! We then installed the necessary water pump , generator and 2 x 5 000 litre tanks next to the Rangers accommodation .
Although the total cost was in the region of USD 36 000, we were incredibly humbled to be able to assist and ensure that lack of available water was a thing of the past .
Jacob's School Fees
When the Mara Conservancy afforded us the use of a our semi-permanent camp our commitment was to employ new staff from the local communities.
We employed a fine young man , by the name of Jacob and his role was to be a general camp hand and responsible for ensuring that water was provided for showers , toilet flushing and giving guests a wake up call with water in their basins .
For those that have been to the camp , I’m sure you can recall Jacob’s slightly unconventional wake up call of “ Jambo , wash your face ! )
Jacob took to his tasks with energy and great commitment . He was and still is a joy to have around .
One evening around the fire , he approached me and asked me to give him some guidance in how he should move forward in his path in life . My immediate answer was to enquire about his education and he told me he had only completed Form 1 ( which was his first year in high school ) but due to lack of funds , he had to pull out of school and assist his family in herding their goats and sheep . To further put this into context , the normal age of someone going into form 2 is around 15 years of age and , at the time , Jacob was 22 .
I was still of the opinion that he needed to advance is education , which he accepted , so we went ahead and started the process of finding a suitable school in the region and begun the enrolment process .
Wild Eye agreed to sponsor his school fees , uniforms , text books , stationery , transport costs and he continued with his education . He has approached his studies diligently , is driven to do better and has always proud to share how he has progressed .
We have continued to employ him in our camp during his school holidays and he continues to be an asset to our company .
Maasai Curio Sales Initiative
In past years, the Wild Eye staff would buy a selection of curios to be sold in camp to our guests. Due to the logistics, the range of authentic Kenyan curios was limited and the initiative never really served our guests and the income that the camp staff derived was negligible.
We decided to engage with the Mara Conservancy and they put us in touch with a group of Maasai ladies, from the local communities , that create some fabulous jewellery, blankets and a host of other curio items.
They would ordinarily sell these to lodges who would in turn, put on a mark up ,and offer them to their clients.
We were adamant that we wanted them to get the full value for the fruits of their hard work. We set up a system whereby 2 of the ladies would spend a week at camp during which time we would provide them with accommodation and food, and they would sell their goods to the Wild Eye clients that were staying in our Mara Camp on that particular week .
This has proven to be a hugely successful initiative and they have generated more funds than selling to lodges and other camps, and have been very appreciative of our hospitality.
Marataba Conservation Safari Experiences
Marataba and Marakele National Park are home to critically important, medium-sized population of white and black rhino, which, similarly to all other rhino populations on the continent, is under pressure from several threats. The most serious threat is the current onslaught of poaching for their horn. This has escalated since 2008 to the point where more than a thousand white rhino have been poached annually in South Africa alone, forcing the rhino population into a serious decline.
Guests joining Wild Eye on one of the Marataba Conservation safari experiences contribute directly to ongoing management interventions to identify every single rhino in the park. Animals are individually located and immobilized before having ear notches cut into the ears, microchips inserted into the horns and body, and DNA samples taken and submitted to the Rhinoceros DNA indexing system (RHoDIS) database.
Guests will also cover the costs associated with a remote camera trapping device. This is an integral part of Marataba’s remote monitoring capacity and assists in the collection of data on both wildlife movements and population size, but also feeds into their law enforcement and security efforts. These high tech camera traps make use of artificial intelligence to determine and alert the security team to react swiftly to any potential threats.
Wildshots Outreach Program
Wild Shots Outreach
Wild Shots Outreach’s aim is to engage young people from disadvantaged communities in wildlife and wild places through photography. The program prioritizes high school students from government schools bordering Kruger. It teaches new skills, providing a “focus” and introduction to the natural world and helps inspire and raise the aspirations of these learners – the conservationists of tomorrow.
The catalyst for founding the program was twofold:
Our struggle over the past several years to find a South African photographer of color to speak at the Wild Shots wildlife photography conference.
Realizing that the vast majority of young people in communities bordering Kruger have never visited a wilderness area before – or seen wildlife at first-hand.
Wild Shots Outreach was founded in November 2015. The project addresses the need for more young people from local communities to experience the wildlife and wild places they previously had little or no access to. It is hoped that the battle for conservation can be won by sharing the beauty and value of South Africa’s wildlife with all its citizens. Wild Shots Outreach gained NPO (Non-Profit Organization status) in June 2017, won the SANParks’ Kudu Award for best environmental education program (2017) and won the International Gold Award from The Global Good Awards (2020).
Each course consists of 5 workshop sessions culminating in a game drive in a game reserve. These can be delivered in a school or youth centre in separate sessions or complete in a residential weekend. We prioritize high school students aged 15 to 17 and the young unemployed. We work with groups of eight students at a time, and use donated DLSR cameras. The course is run over a number of days in the school or as a residential weekend in a game reserve. Each workshop is followed by a discussion session for the students to review their work, and the course concludes with a presentation session and student feedback. Students are presented with certificates and prints of their photographs. Each school or group receives a camera so that the students can continue to use their new skills.
This is actually more about our incredibly generous guests than it is about us as we simply act as a conduit, getting any unwanted camera equipment donated to the program to Mike Kendrick, the program coordinator. If you have any old and unwanted camera equipment that you’d like to donate to the Wild Shots outreach program please do get in touch with us and we will make sure that the gear gets put to good use in the program.
Donation of Canvas Prints to Surgeons for Little Lives
As part of the move to a new office space we found ourselves in the fortunate position of having several high quality canvas prints of wildlife images that needed a new home. We donated these to Surgeons for Little Lives who used some for the waiting room in the new building at Baragwanath Hospital whilst auctioning off the rest in an effort raise much needed funds for their work.
Olifants Game Reserve Golf Day
Wild Eye sponsored a trip to the Maasai Mara for 2 people which was auctioned at the annual Golf Day for the Olifants Game Reserve. The nett proceeds of this raised R 160 000 to their anti-poaching efforts.
Kruger National Park Honorary Rangers
We participate in an annual golf day where we sponsor canvas wildlife prints , captured by Wild Eye Guides , that are auctioned at dinner . This initiative raises around R 40 000 and is donated to the Kruger Parks Conservation efforts
Pack For A Purpose
During this global pandemic, we must all practice responsible behavior. Now more than ever Packing for a Purpose will be a way to make a Big Impact where you travel. Have a Big Impact in the communities you visit. Simply use a small amount of space in your luggage to pack supplies needed by community projects around the world.
5 Easy Steps
- Select your destination.
- Find an accommodation or tour company and a project it supports.
- Choose the supplies you wish to take from the specific items requested.
- Drop off the supplies at the accommodation or tour company.
- They will be delivered to the project; it’s that easy!