Our goal at SEF is to create sustainable programs that have an impact and are scalable.
First came our decision to use our collective communication and publishing skills to create educational platforms to share knowledge about the crucial conservation and environmental issues of our time. This led to our Education & Awareness Initiative with the launch of our first project, Rhino Review.
Next came the realization that fixing the environmental mess that our generation has caused is a multi-generational task. The passion and resolve of young people are vital, and so our youth program was born.
We then found that it’s tough to do sustainable work without having the backing of the law. Rules and regulations must be on our side to cement real change. Lobbying and working as advisors to lawmakers have become essential elements of our work.
Finally, protecting the land. We know that this cannot be achieved by simply throwing money at perimeter fences and surveillance. The real key to sustainable conservation success is good neighborliness.
Conservation areas in the developing world are frequently surrounded by desperately poor communities for whom acquiring even the most basic of needs is a daily struggle. Without meaningful engagement and partnerships with communities, the risk is that wildlife areas are seen not only as sources of food, fuel, and building materials, but also revenue streams through poaching for ivory, rhino horn, and illicit wildlife trafficking in general.
Local communities can play a vital role in the fight against wildlife crime. However, engaging support for wildlife conservation areas is challenging and takes a long time. Trust and respect in developing projects that represent community voices, follow democratic processes, and support education and skills development are fundamental to healthy interdependence between wildlife areas and their neighbors.
But there is actually one more aspect to SEF—our grants program. We acknowledge that there is no silver bullet to conservation. So, in our spirit of collaboration, we will always support good people doing extraordinary work. Through our network, we can clearly see who is doing the real work as opposed to those who rely on having a great social media game. In a world full of greed and fraud, this is an invaluable piece of the puzzle for us.