What a fantastic night last Thursday in Sydney with the launch of M&R Wild and our first conservation project on the ground - the Akagera Elephant Project in Rwanda! Thanks so much to all of you who came along to support the cause.
We raised a little over $2000 which is great start-up funding towards producing the identification tools needed for the elephants in Akagera National Park. But more importantly, we are well now on our way to filling our conservation journey to Akagera next December, which directly enables the elephant field work to happen with yours truly AND with all profits from the accommodation and park fees going direct to African Parks and the management of Akagera National Park. Travel doesn't get much more ethical than this, and there are few opportunities like this where you are also making a genuine, hands on contribution as part of your safari. Here's a few snaps of our African night in Sydney in case you missed it on our facebook page!
Joanne Edwards and Andy Ridley, co-founder of M&R Wild
Laura, Jeff and Camilla with me
Our first adventures in conservation, where you get to actively participate and by coming along enable the Akagera Elephant Project to happen, are in the first two weeks of December 2019. You can sign up now by contacting me here.
The accommodation we stay at is the very comfortable at Ruzizi Tented Lodge, managed by African Parks, set on the lake and surrounded by hippos and monkeys. The program over a week includes not only helping me with the elephant work, but also optional scheduled actitivies with African Parks staff, including a behind the scenes experience, walking the fence line with the rangers, local community visits, and sunset boat rides on the lake.
Afterwards, while you're in Rwanda, we can arrange for you to visit the endangered mountain gorillas on the other side of Rwanda and/or visit the new Wilderness Safaris luxury tented camp in northern Akagera National Park, which is in more open grasslands habitat (where the newly reintroduced lions live!).
Elephants in Akagera (Photo by Sarah Hall)
Akagera is an incredible conservation work in progress, but since African Parks took over in partnership with the Rwandan government in 2012, they area has gone from strength to strength. Rhinos and lions have now been reintroduced to the park after a long period of devastation. I'm confident that our elephant project will shed light on how a population introduced from just a small group of just 26 orphans under the age of ten years in 1975 can manage to survive and thrive given time. It's not abnormal for elephant calves under the age of ten to die if their mothers die (and in Amboseli National Park, a third of elephants orphaned between the ages of 5 and 10 died if their mother died, even though they are then past suckling age). Given the recent and continuing poaching crisis in Africa, driven by renewed demand for ivory, there are many more orphaned elephants today than there were ten years ago. Every elephant counts when you have a continental population of only about 400,000 today, so we hope that by studying Akagera's elephant population we'll be able to shed light on the management of other populations begun from orphaned origins.
Photo of orphaned baby elephant at Daphne Sheldrick's elephant orphanage in Nairobi
Come along and support this project and the get involved in the great work being done to re-wild Rwanda's only 'big five' park!