Taking time out in the field and away from Head Office (in Stellenbosch, South Africa) is essential for the Peace Parks team to fully understand the needs of the people, wildlife and landscape that their work affects. It is all very well making plans in an airconditioned office, but these can be wildly altered once the ideas are tested and talked about with the people that live and work in the bush.
After months of working at home with their families and partners due to COVID-19 restrictions, Kate, Stefan and Lesa say goodbye to their families for a whistle-stop tour around Mozambique. In just four days they plan to travel to Limpopo, Zinave, and Banhine national parks as well as Maputo Special Reserve. That is quite a feat out in the bush and will involve many planes and helicopters to cover the vast distances they have to cover.
It is an early start, and the airport is deserted. South Africa is still suffering badly under COVID-19, so most travel is still suspended. But the work of Peace Parks never stops. In fact, during the pandemic their workload has increased – working hard with generous donors to procure masks and distribute them, helping women to make material masks in communities, and rolling out cash-for-work programmes that have put food on the table in thousands of households.
On this trip the team will be meeting with staff in the field, checking out the airstrips, and trying to understand better the challenges Peace Parks and partners face in these remote locations. Kate, a Resource Development Coordinator, has never been out in the field in Mozambique. Stefan, Project Systems and Compliance Manager, is keen to see how systems he has been working on in the office actually work in practice out in the bush. Lesa will be training rangers and field staff on how best to collect content for Peace Parks TV, conveying the importance of narrative and storytelling in order to help spread the story of Peace Parks Foundation.
Moreover, getting a birds-eye view of operations is essential to the work of the Peace Parks team, both on a personal level as well as a business level. Working in the conservation sector to rewild and rebuild southern Africa’s protected areas is a privilege but it is also non-stop, demanding work, as there is no time to waste. Spending a few days in the wild is a great reminder of just why this work is so vital.
If you would like to help rewild Africa and be part of the Peace Parks’ mission, you can donate here: www.peaceparks.org/donate
Remember, it’s not just a gift. You will be making a meaningful difference and impacting the course of conservation history.