In order to achieve successful conservation of biodiversity, Care for Wild recognizes the importance of partnerships with local communities and prioritizes the involvement of people in conservation efforts. As a result, we have established a sustainable development model that fosters inclusive partnerships and community-led projects to address the socio-economic challenges faced by local communities.
These challenges include unemployment, poverty, hunger, limited access to education and skills development, and more. Care for Wild's community projects are designed to support youth employment, promote economic development, ensure food security, provide training and skills development opportunities, and encourage responsible environmental stewardship.
In 2019, Care for Wild formed a partnership with the Lomshiyo Community to establish an ambitious farming project on their 1500-hectare Crystal Springs farm. The Lomshiyo Farming Project, created by the Care for Wild-Lomshiyo Community Trust agricultural partnership, places a strong emphasis on community involvement and generating job and skills development opportunities for local community members.
At its highest level of production, the farming operation employs 70 community members. Teams rotate between various tasks such as land preparation, spraying, weeding, planting, and harvesting of crops. The project also provides training and skills development opportunities for young people through an internship with the YES program (Youth Employment Scheme) funded by Investec Bank. The YES program empowers young individuals with the knowledge, confidence, and opportunities to become self-sustaining providers for their families.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Care for Wild demonstrated its commitment to sustainable agriculture and community support by providing vegetable parcels to over 4000 individuals in need, thereby supporting 40 households within the community.
The Lomshiyo Farming Project aims to expand into a 500-hectare crop-producing farm with the introduction of citrus and avocado to meet the substantial demand for fresh produce from local markets. As the project expands, it will train and employ additional community members, potentially providing permanent and seasonal employment to 500 local individuals.
In December 2021, Care for Wild launched the Junior Rangers program, which aims to educate and engage children as future rhino and conservation ambassadors. The Junior Rangers program comprises a series of visits to the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, where children from the local community participate in various activities, including educational talks, tracking exercises, game drives, and sports.
Moreover, the program offers children the chance to connect and engage with the Care for Wild staff, motivating them to pursue careers in the pursuit of a sustainable future. In December 2021, Care for Wild laucnhed our first alll-girls Junior Ranger program.
The Junior Rangers program is not limited to teaching children about the importance of rhino conservation and biodiversity. It also aims to impart valuable life lessons related to the environment, such as keeping water systems clean and disposing of rubbish correctly. By teaching these life skills, the Junior Rangers program is creating young ambassadors for conservation and promoting responsible behavior towards the environment.
By equipping future generations with the knowledge and skills necessary to sustainably manage our natural resources, the Junior Rangers program is helping to protect our planet for years to come.
Sport has always played a vital role in community upliftment and social change. It offers an excellent platform for people to come together and work towards a common goal while promoting a healthy lifestyle and fostering essential life skills such as teamwork, communication, and leadership. In recent years, sport has also become a critical component of conservation initiatives, with many organizations utilizing its power to promote environmental awareness and protection. Soccer, in particular, is a sport that transcends age, religious, and cultural boundaries. It is the most popular sport in Africa, teaching leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and discipline.
In October 2019, Care for Wild established an adult soccer team in the local community called Rhinos United. The team trains weekly and has participated in several tournaments, providing players with an opportunity to develop themselves and encourage each other. The success of the community soccer team inspired younger members of the community to form their own team. In March 2020, children aged between 4 to 9 years old created the Care for Wild Kids soccer team. The children meet weekly with their coach and have participated in numerous tournaments, with several wins. These opportunities are helping the children to develop their confidence, communication skills, and teamwork abilities.
Care for Wild also supports a new women's netball team. This gathering of young and inspirational women has created a supportive and safe environment where they can meet, socialize, and empower each other. These women are a positive influence in their community, demonstrating the power of sport to bring people together, promote gender equality, and contribute to community upliftment. Through sport, Care for Wild is not only promoting conservation initiatives but also enhancing the lives of individuals in the community by providing them with a platform for personal growth and social development.
Care for Wild's educational and tutoring programs for local community children are ongoing initiatives that aim to enhance the academic and personal growth of children in the area. Our tutoring program which caters to children from Grades 4 through 8, provides additional English and math tutoring sessions to help improve their academic performance. The program utilizes interactive games and fun training techniques to make learning engaging and effective.
Another ongoing initiative targets the personal development of local children aged 14 to 18. The program is designed to help young people develop their communication and leadership skills, as well as their sense of responsibility. Care for Wild holds sessions throughout our facility, with the pilot program taking place at the Mounted Unit. The program uses mentorship, education, and training to instil valuable life skills that children can carry with them throughout their lives.
Care for Wild is dedicated to supporting families in the local community, especially during times of need. With the help of partners, we regularly distribute food parcels to those who are most in need. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many people lost their jobs and were unable to provide for their families. Amid the pandemic, Care for Wild demonstrated its commitment to sustainable agriculture and community support by providing vegetable parcels provided by our community farm, to over 4000 individuals in need, thereby supporting 40 households within the community. During World Food Month in October 2021, Care for Wild distributed seedlings of spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, beetroot, and butternut to individual households in the community. This initiative has been very popular and successful, with community members taking responsibility and great pride in their gardens.
During the winter months, temperatures drop to well below freezing in the surrounding communities, and essential clothing items are hard to find. Thanks to donations and handmade garments from volunteers all over the world, Care for Wild is able to make multiple distributions of blankets, hats, scarves, jerseys, and clothes to the women and children and elderly of our local community. From colorful, hand-knitted blankets and jerseys to donated winter wear, jackets, and socks, every item is always greatly appreciated. Visits to the community are always filled with smiles and songs, and the children's faces light up when they are handed these items and carry them home with so much love.