Wildlife Conservation in South Africa

With its head office based in Modderfontein, Gauteng, the Endangered Wildlife Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving threatened ecosystems and animal species in South Africa by supporting biodiversity and promoting sustainable use of natural resources, working towards its vision of “a healthy planet and an equitable world that values and sustains diversity of all life”. As people become more aware that the choices they make have an impact on their neighbours and the environment, the concept of biodiversity conservation is gaining recognition. Through a series of programs, the EWT focuses attention on issues requiring urgent attention, while at the same time promoting overall principles of conservation.

Prized as South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane, along with Wattled Cranes, Grey Crowned Cranes and Black Crowned Cranes, are in danger of dying out as their habitats are encroached upon and damaged by humans. Working along with the International Crane Foundation (ICF) the EWT has developed the African Crane Conservation Program (EWT-ACCP) to raise awareness of the need to manage the grassland, wetland and Karoo ecosystems that are the habitat of these graceful birds – seen by many as symbols of peace, longevity and happiness. Blue Cranes are particularly vulnerable as their range is more restricted than the other Crane species, with up to half the world’s Blue Crane population being found in the agricultural areas of the Western Cape and the Karoo region. Work is being done to secure and maintain areas of habitat, for the benefit of the cranes as well as the communities living there. In addition to taking steps to conserve habitats, the project aims to reduce illegal trade in wild caught cranes.

Other programs run by the EWT in South Africa include the Birds of Prey Program dedicated to the conservation of raptors and their habitats; the Carnivore Conservation Program promoting research on southern Africa’s carnivores with a view to improving their conservation status; the Drylands Conservation Program focusing on ensuring the survival of the endemic Riverine Rabbit through habitat conservation; the Source to Sea Program for the conservation of both marine and fresh water species of South Africa; the Threatened Grassland Species Program; the Threatened Amphibian Program; and the Wildlife and Transport Program assessing the impact of transport infrastructure on South Africa’s wildlife and working with public and private stakeholders to address the problem.

Members of the public are encouraged to support the EWT in a number of ways, including annual membership and becoming an ‘activist’ for a specific cause. Visit the Endangered Wildlife Trust website and see how you can become part of the solution to the problems facing South Africa’s wildlife today.