Ford Wildlife Foundation Enhances UN World Environment Day Initiatives to Protect Our Planet

FWF currently supports 26 education, research and conservation projects across South Africa, along with a veterinary and human-wildlife mitigation project in Mozambique. All projects are provided with loan Ford Rangers for a period of two years

 

The Ford Wildlife Foundation (FWF) continues to make an important contribution to environmental conservation and awareness by supporting leading conservation organisations across South Africa and in Mozambique.

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FWF recently handed over nine new locally built Ford Ranger Double Cab 4x4s to its conservation partners, providing crucial mobility for the teams to implement their wide-ranging environmental projects – a valuable effort that supports the annual United Nations World Environment Day on 5 June to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect our environment.

 

“The Ford Wildlife Foundation currently supports a total of 26 projects across South Africa, and one project in Mozambique,”

says Lynda du Plessis, FWF Manager.

 

“We have 16 conservation projects, six research projects and five environmental education projects that play an essential role in creating awareness around the impact we have on our environment, and empowering communities to help protect our precious natural resources."

 

“The tough and reliable Ford Ranger Double Cab 4x4s provided by the FWF are used by the project teams to access remote and often difficult to reach areas. The vehicles are an essential tool to help the conservation organisations protect threatened species and ensure the rich biodiversity of the region, and strengthens Ford’s commitment to caring for each other and the environment,”

du Plessis says.

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Vehicles are loaned to the partner organisations for a period of two years, with servicing and maintenance provided by the Ford dealer network. All nine of the recent handovers were to existing FWF partner organisations for a renewed two-year loan period. Ford has also donated 12 Ford Rangers to conservation organisations to date.

 

The nine conservation organisations that received their new loan Ford Ranger Double Cab 4x4s during the first half of 2022 are:

 

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Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) – Threatened Amphibian Programme

This project highlights the conservation importance of frogs, particularly the Endangered Pickersgill's Reed Frog, and their freshwater and associated terrestrial habitats within South Africa.

 

“With the support of the Ford Wildlife Foundation, we have identified over 28 000 hectares across three provinces for habitat protection through the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme, for threatened amphibians and reptiles, most of which do not currently occur in any protected areas,”

says EWT’s Dr Jeanne Tarrant.

 

“Without a project vehicle, we would not be able to engage with landowners and community members to drive conservation efforts for these often-overlooked species. Our ability to reach people across South Africa’s diverse landscapes has been greatly enhanced through our ‘Frog Ford’ (the design on which generates a lot of conversation), and on average we directly engage with over 1 000 members of the public each year. The vehicle also enables us to connect with other FWF partners, for example the Cape Leopard Trust who we partner with in the Western Cape.”

 

Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) – Carnivore Conservation Project

Another EWT conservation initiative supported by FWF is the Carnivore Conservation Project, located in the Kruger National Park. It focuses on the African Wild Dog, which is South Africa’s most endangered carnivore, and the second-most endangered in Africa. The team implements large-scale collaborative field-based projects to protect and grow the African Wild Dog population.

 

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Lapalala Wilderness School

 

“With the support from the Ford Wildlife Foundation over the past three years, our school has created an absolute haven for conservation and youth development in Limpopo,”

says Lapalala Wilderness School’s Mashudu Makhokha.

 

“It is fantastic to have Ford Wildlife Foundation supporting this wonderful project."

 

“Environmental education and social justice are absolutely critical for conservation. It is very exciting to know that Lapalala is putting so much into education, and that these young people are getting schooled in such a wonderful way, because they are our future in our country.”

 

Mabula Ground Hornbill Project

Located in Limpopo, the Ground Hornbill project focuses on monitoring the nests and harvesting second-hatched chicks, which are typically thrown out of the nests by their parents. As a critically endangered species, the abandoned chicks are collected by the team and reared in custom-built facilities, with the aim of augmenting them into existing or new groups of Ground Hornbills in the wild.

 

“The incredible and consistent support of the Ford Wildlife Foundation has allowed us to not only expand our work within South Africa, but we’re now able to take everything we have learnt to support our neighbouring countries in setting up their own community-driven conservation action plans for the species too,”

says Dr Lucy Kemp.

“The team has just returned from six weeks in Namibia helping the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) ground-truth the historic distribution from the 1980s and sadly confirmed more than 60-percent loss of range. Our Ford kept us going through the crazy thick sands of Khaudum National Park and kilometres of sticky mud dirt tracks.”

 

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Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust

 

“Due to the continued support of the Ford Wildlife Foundation, we are able visit more renosterveld sites and engage with more landowners, thereby increasing our reach among the farmers owning renosterveld remnants in the Overberg region of the Western Cape. These important people are the custodians of this critically endangered ecosystem,”

says Dr Odette Curtis.

 

“We are so grateful to Ford for the support they have given us over the years, without which our conservation footprint would have been substantially smaller. We have made significant inroads into conservation in this landscape, securing over 6 000 ha of veld for conservation in perpetuity. We are grateful to consider Ford one of our longest-standing and consistent partners.”

 

SANCCOB – Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds

 

“Having a reliable, robust, vehicle at SANCCOB gives us peace of mind when called upon to rescue seabirds, as well as transporting them to be released back into the wild. Our focus can remain on the task at hand, with the knowledge that the seabirds in transit will safely arrive at their destination,”

says Natalie Maskell, SANCCOB CEO.

 

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“It’s been three years that we’ve had the privilege of being a recipient of a Ford Ranger, sponsored by the Ford Wildlife Foundation, and we received a brand-new vehicle after the initial two-year loan period ended. We have remained confident in our ability to mobilise equipment in the event of emergency situations such as oil spills and mass abandonments of seabird chicks, improving the efficiency of our rescue operations, and ultimately the prognosis of distressed seabirds. Thank you, Ford Wildlife Foundation; you have directly contributed to the conservation of seabirds in South Africa.”

 

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Establishment of a National Grassland Park in the Eastern Cape (Northern Region)

 

“The ongoing support by the Ford Wildlife Foundation really has been a key enabler in this project. The work in the rough terrain of the high-altitude grasslands means that we need a rugged and reliable vehicle to do our work. This includes regular site visits and biodiversity assessments, such as the recent ‘bioblitz’ in February this year, as well as meetings with private and communal landowners in the landscape,”

says Programme Manager Thembanani Nsibande.

 

“As a result of these engagements, a number of landowners have formally indicated their interest and submitted project application forms to have their properties declared as part of the proposed Grasslands National Park through a contractual arrangement option. WWF and its partners are immensely grateful for the invaluable support from FWF towards achieving the objectives of this exciting project for the wellbeing of people and nature.”

 

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Cape Leopard Trust

 

“The Cape Leopard Trust's research and conservation work would not be possible without the fantastic support from Ford Wildlife Foundation,”

says Dr Kathryn Williams, Research and Conservation Director.

 

“Leopards in the Cape utilise very large home ranges and manoeuvre through challenging landscapes. The sponsored Ford Ranger allows us to conduct leopard monitoring research in these areas and to support communities to coexist with wildlife. We are extremely grateful to the Ford Wildlife Foundation for enabling us to go the distance for leopards in the Cape, and for helping us to drive our projects forward.”

 

Mozambique Wildlife Alliance (MWA)

 

“The support of FWF to Mozambique has been a game changer from day one. Being the only wildlife vets in Mozambique with a government mandate to operate country-wide, our team travels big distances to remote and isolated areas with no support or back up. Having comfortable and reliable vehicles is absolutely critical to achieve MWA’s mission in Mozambique,”

says Dr João Ameida.

 

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“In 2021 our veterinary team had life-saving and management interventions on 120 elephants, 83 carnivores, 32 rhinos as well as several antelopes, Pangolins and other species from Mozambique's northern border with Tanzania to the country’s southernmost limit across from Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa. The FWF-MWA Ford Rangers are an integral part of the team and a critical piece of equipment for MWA’s unique wildlife veterinary operation.”

 

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