March 15, 2002


Vista nonprofit works to bring back endangered species

The African Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving African wildlife and cultures, is developing several programs to protect and rehabilitate the rhino population in Zambia. The rhino is indigenous to Zambia, yet there are only 5 individuals left in the country. As part of the conservation campaign, the AC will partner various agencies to implement a breed and release program that includes procuring rhinos, breeding them on the edge of a national park, and releasing their offsprings into the park as young adults.
Species reintroduction is one of the many areas of concern for the Conservancy. The organization's philosophy is holistic. Its process is to research and identify geographical areas where the harmonious relationship between man and nature has been disrupted and then to formulate a plan by which to address the identified threats.

Following this process, the Conservancy has identified threats to Zambian wildlife and habitats, and to the self-sufficiency of the rural Zambian communities. To address these threats, the AC is developing an environmental/wildlife education program for children in urban and rural Zambian schools; increasing the number and capacity of Zambian anti-poaching units; analyzing the viability of ranching cooperatives to eliminate the practice of poaching for meat; and supporting the local economies through various programs such as Conservancy travel, the online art gallery and store, and coffee and textile import projects.

Corinne Waldenmayer, African Conservancy Executive Director and co-founder, is African and highly sensitive to the cultural issues that surround African wildlife and cultural preservation. She emphasizes that "…ultimately, the Africans will determine the fate of their environment. The African Conservancy cannot be an aid agency. It must be an empowering agency."

Corinne Waldenmayer, and Norbert Waldenmayer, the organization's Chairman and co-founder, live in Africa part of the year. While on location, they assess situations and trends, and deepen their relationships with the political and business communities as well as with the rural communities, to ensure that the Conservancy programs are born out of African grass-roots movements. "For any wildlife, cultural or socio-economic program to succeed in Africa, it must be born from within the community where it is to be delivered. We can act as educators, informing people of their choices, and of the consequences those choices are likely to have. But it is the people who must make those choices. And when the African chooses the path of preservation, then our mission has become their goal, and we will support them," says Corinne Waldenmayer.

As a result of their business backgrounds, the Waldenmayer's know the organization needs to meet business standards of success. The organization's return on investment is measured, not in dollars, but in the ratio of objectives met to the dollars spent. "The non-profit environment is extremely competitive," says Norbert Waldenmayer, "and only organizations driven by business principles such as ROI are likely to meet their objectives in the coming years."

Photographs available on request