Our Mission and Approach
The African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) builds the capacity of rural Africans to engage in environmental conservation and sustainable livelihood strategies that promote the dual objectives of biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation. At APW, we emphasize the importance of place-based and community-led initiatives that support the collective management of natural resources for the mutual benefit of people and wildlife.
The majority of our staff are African citizens who live and work together with our constituencies – rural Africans living in remote places. With our unique, place-based approach, APW is bringing conservation back to the field.
APW’s theory of Place-Based Conservation posits that by creating a long-term, year-round relationship based on commitment and respectful integration, NGOs can succeed in empowering rural communities to sustainably manage their own resources. Our goal is to help rural Africans to successfully manage their land and wildlife populations while also achieving significant benefits. On the Maasai Steppe, APW applies Place-Based Conservation via an innovative, interconnected four-part approach. Each of our programs demonstrates our step-wise process to:
- Prevent Human-wildlife conflicts
- Build Community capacity to manage natural resources
- Support Active management by the community
- Foster local Conservation incentives (for ecological and/or financial benefit).
Human-Wildlife Conflict Prevention. We prevent human-wildlife conflict, monitor populations of fauna (especially lions and other large carnivores), and involve local community members in efforts to reduce conflict. “Living Wall” livestock corrals are made of native commiphora trees woven through chainlink, creating an impenetrable barrier that keeps livestock safe. Our wildlife monitoring activities determine the impact of our programs, including Living Walls, on reducing big cat-livestock conflict over a year-to-year and decadal time scale. Our Warriors for Wildlife program, which hires local Maasai to work for the benefit of people and wildlife, responds to conflict reports, helps us monitor species, trains village anti-poaching units, and adds support to the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) and Wildlife Division (WD) in their anti-poaching efforts.
Community Capacity Building in Natural Resources Management. APW provides action-oriented environmental education and training opportunities for both schoolchildren and adults to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to combat overgrazing, overcrowding, human-wildlife conflicts, soil erosion, overharvesting of local resources and increasing water scarcity. The education we provide helps communities to create a sustainable environment that in turn improves their economy and their quality of life, all while supporting vital wildlife populations. Our outreach to multiple generations of Maasai – from young children to great-grandparents – helps to instill a conservation-conscious mindset in all levels of the communities where we work.
Active Management by the Community. We provide tools and knowledge for the community to take control of its own future in sustainability and environmental protection. The establishment of the Girigiri Watershed Conservation Area (the first such community-led watershed protection effort on the Steppe) is our key initiative when it comes to the restoration and maintenance of ecosystem services and natural resources. Additionally, the availability of high-quality rangeland is vital for the Maasai ways of life. This rangeland is shared with wildlife. The rangeland management course that we have developed focuses on how to protect pastures and prevent overutilization through indigenous knowledge, as well as how to manage in the face of climate change. We encourage our students from all programs to be proactive in all aspects of environmental management.
Conservation Incentives (social and/or financial). Our programs particularly provide social and financial benefits for those connected to the conservation effort. Those communities that protect their livestock from conflicts with wildlife preserve their livelihoods, while also ensuring the health of lion prides. Businesswomen engaged in bee-keeping will find their hives are more productive if the environment is healthy enough to feed their bees. Communities engaged in natural resource management will find that their livestock herds flourish when water and forage are abundant. Through programs such as Living Walls and educational seminars, communities learn to ensure a sustainable environment, and therefore invest in the social and financial paybacks that come with their actions.
|Read more about each of our initiatives:|
|Wildlife Conservation||Rangeland Management||Environmental Education||Conservation Enterprise|
APW initially began in 2001 as the People & Predators Project, a non-profit organization based at Yale University. Originally focused on applied research and the challenges of conserving Africa’s large carnivores, in 2005 the organization made a transition from its research project structure into a broader-reaching non-profit called the People & Predators Fund. At this time, the fund registered as an independent, US 501c3 organization based in New Jersey. The Fund continued with the exciting carnivore conservation activities begun earlier, while expanding its programs in support of integrated conservation and village development. In 2008, the organization made its final transition to the African People & Wildlife Fund, reflecting both its expanded mission and its long-term commitment to the African continent. In addition, the Tanzania People & Wildlife Fund (TPW) was registered in the United Republic of Tanzania as APW’s first sister organization.