To hear Craig Sholley tell it, AWF never intended to build schools. Supporting capacity building and opportunities for conservation education, sure. But physically building a school?
After more than a year of training and field experience, the first round of AWF Conservation Management Trainees has already amassed a wealth of experience.
To some African communities, the presence of wildlife is perceived as a threat to their livelihoods. Elephants are crop eating, water tank tipping nuisances. Lions are cattle attacking predators. Routine chores involve the added danger of stumbling upon a hippo or crocodile at the riverbank.
To others, where there is wildlife, they see opportunity. For many African nations, tourism is one of the fastest-growing economic sectors. In fact, Tanzania’s earnings topped 1.88 billion US Dollars in 2013, superseding gold as their number one foreign exchange earner.
When AWF helped the women of Kijabe Group Ranch start up a financial services organization back in 2009, little could we have predicted the immense impact the bank would have on the entire community. In 2007, we’d helped open The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, a high-end lodge that provided community employment and income, after the community had set aside some communal lands for conservation.
The conservation community had even more reason to celebrate during the holiday season as Kenya passed a new Wildlife Conservation and Management Bill.