In January, 2016 I was alerted to the below question on Quora.com. My answer follows.
Answer by Lisa Groeneweg
*Edit Nov. 2016. – Everyone at Chengeta Wildlife thanks Brent Noorda for the donation of $100,000! We will use it well. Thanks tofor the A2A and thanks to everyone who voted for Chengeta. Brent went strictly by the upvotes so you made this happen for Chengeta! Go team!
Our nonprofit is a perfect example of democratic philanthropy! It was created and is run by scrappy volunteers from all over the world who saw a problem, created a solution and put it into action.
In November 2013, I read a Quora answer that ripped at my heart. It wasanswer about and poachers poisoning a watering hole and killing hundreds of elephants and many other species of wildlife. After learning more about the explosion of wildlife poaching across Africa, I sent Rory a message asking what I could do to help his efforts against this slaughter.
We discussed what was needed and many Quora friends and fans of Rory joined our cause immediately. Volunteers created our logo and other graphics, drafted by-laws, built a website, designed infographics, donated artwork, created fundraising videos, installed a board of directors, held bake sales and so much more. You can read about our efforts on our first blog,We quickly began to raise funds to get the necessary anti-poaching training to Park Rangers who protect wildlife – Rory’s specialty. In our short history we have raised over $132k together! At the start some doubters thought raising $5k would be a stretch – hah!
On February 25th, 2014, Rory and I officially co-founded Chengeta Wildlife, a non-profit based in my home state of Iowa. In the Shona language Chengeta means “to look after or take care of.”
- Two rangers are killed each week in the line of duty. These men and women are usually extremely knowledgeable about the flora and fauna of the parks, but now as the last line of defense between their ecological heritage and heavily armed poachers, they also need the skills and knowledge necessary to safely arrest heavily armed criminals.
- Armed militias and international crime syndicates have become heavily involved in trafficking wildlife products, attracted by the relatively easy money to be made. Rhino horn has a higher street value than gold or cocaine.
- Currently an elephant is killed every 15 minutes and a rhino every 8 hours. Experts caution that these keystone species will become extinct in the wild within 10 years if the killing continues at the current rate!
- Stripping the land of critical wildlife is devastating to the environment.
A light at the end of the tunnel?
- The world is becoming aware of the poaching catastrophe.
- The main markets for poached ivory and rhino horn are becoming educated about the blood price that is paid for their ivory trinkets. Billions of dollars have been spent on advertising this information in China. Demand has reportedly fallen a bit.
- We must protect the remaining wildlife (and rangers) until this madness is controlled.
We have a scalable solution.
- Our proven successful anti-poaching ranger training program is in high demand because it works!
- During live operations in Nkhotakota, a protected area in Malawi, our trained rangers under Rory’s guidance, arrested 81 poachers in just 12 days!
- The arrests continue after our trainers leave because the rangers have learned everything needed to continue planning and executing successful operations.
- The rangers don’t require drones or other expensive equipment to be successful. We give them all they need to achieve success using their most powerful weapon; their brain!
- We select the best and brightest rangers to receive additional education so they become the next anti-poaching trainers for their department making our program self sustaining. We create no dependence upon our organization.
Our training has been implemented in four countries so far with many more asking for our help. We have trained United Nations rangers in Guinea. A portion of that training was underwritten by the European Union. In fact, as I write this, Rory is training another group of UN rangers in Guinea.
Chengeta Wildlife is staffed by volunteers. So far all overhead expenses have been covered by board members so 100% of public donations go directly to the ranger training program! Our work has been supported by donations made by individuals from over 26 countries! We are extremely frugal with our limited funds. We wring every last bit of good from each penny donated.
Your support would mean everything to many passionate people who are giving this fight their all, especially Rory and the other brave rangers who are risking their very lives.