January 5, 2022

Cheers to 2021... Here’s to a Shift in Consciousness

As we bid farewell to 2021, I reflect back on a year that was stressful and seemingly uninspiring. The pandemic was already with us and just kept pushing us down with every new global spike. Just when spirits rose within Wildlife ACT, some or other global pandemic-related trigger was pulled and knocked us back again. From an organisational perspective (as many others have experienced), this has been tough – planning budgets and operations for critical conservation work, developing staff and structures, and motivating teams that run primarily on passion.
But I believe that there has been a silver lining. I have seen a consciousness develop among humans about the value of nature and wildlife. There seems to be a stronger understanding of our own connection with nature and how dependent we are on biodiversity – appreciating the inter-connectedness between people and the natural environment. Nature’s health equals human health.

Zululand sunrise

From the perspective of a conservation organisation, this is significant. It creates a shift from how our individual lives make financial success, to how our lives contribute to lasting environmental outcomes. This will not be a quick change with little visual success occurring in the short term, but it is a shift that will ultimately lead to change over the coming decades. This change will make conservation more mainstream, no longer only carried out by a small group of individuals with ecological backgrounds but drawing in a wider range of skills and backgrounds – allowing nature and its value to be taken into economic decision making. Making conservation relevant at all levels is crucial and forms a core foundation of what we do at Wildlife ACT.

We continue to focus our role on the ground, committed to keeping our teams in the field ensuring conservation work is informed and effective. Our teams continue to monitor priority species across the region – understanding populations and movements both inside and outside protected areas, thus building a strong understanding of needs, opportunities and threats.

Our various species programmes focus on understanding, protecting and expanding populations of endangered and threatened species within the region – using both existing and new techniques and technologies to continually push boundaries. Our community conservation team has expanded, building and strengthening our network of youth and institutions in those communities outside the parks where we work, also growing our understanding of the social and conservation challenges in these areas (from both a conservation and community perspective). Our newly-formed Human Wildlife Coexistence Programme team works closely with our community conservation team, ensuring we are first responders to any potential conflict situations and building stronger partnerships among local and relevant stakeholders.  
This work has been made possible by our very dedicated team on the ground who, along with our conservation partners, have achieved so much. The financial and inspirational support provided by the numerous individuals, volunteers, groups and organisations that are behind us, make this work possible. And our committed board of Trustees guide us through a multitude of challenges. To all of you, thank you. As we continue to move through 2022, I look forward to seeing continued progress – working together through the tough times, and celebrating collectively with the successes.
Happy New Year – may we use our renewed energy to connect with nature.
Mark Gerrard
Wildlife ACT Managing Director