After spending many years struggling to achieve wildlife conservation in Kenya, I decided to start WildlifeDirect to solve a very real problem in Africa, the lack of adequate funds to protect the continents unique wildlife heritage. A cash endowment was the obvious solution, but nobody would give us the amounts of money that we required. Persuading individual donors to give support was not easy because most people are unaware of what is going on in conservation until there is a crisis. I needed to find another way to raise awareness and funds on a continuous basis.
WildlifeDirect was conceived as a way of facilitating exchanges between the front lines of conservation and the rest of the world, to create a community of people concerned about conservation and to allow for direct interaction with and support to the conservationists on the ground. Our website is a set of tools to make this happen – and I’m very proud of the success so far. Not only have we enabled a number of interesting and courageous conservationists to write blogs from the frontlines, but I am encouraged that the world is reading, listening, and taking action.
What’s unique about WildlifeDirect is that donors can select what they want to send a donation for, monitor how their donation worked, and learn about the day to day activities on the ground. All of this with the knowledge that the donations are transferred to the field, net only of bank fees. For some projects this has been a godsend, especially in times of critical need. Gorilla protection for example is our oldest blog started in January this year and it has already earned tens of thousands of dollars for emergency response following the attacks on the Rugendo family in July.
The early success of wildlifedirect.org has made us realize the potential of using the internet to create an online global conservation community. Our goal is to reach 250,000 people each month by the end of 2008 as this will enable us to generate the funds we need to support our partners on the ground. My team and I will be using this blog to tell you how you can help us, how we are doing and to give you my personal opinions about conservation in general.
I sincerely hope you will use this space to share and exchange your views too.