How We Give Back
The Wild Source Mission
The Wild Source is a mission driven safari operator. We specialize in wildlife biologist planned safaris, using travel as a conservation tool to empower local people and conserve wildlife and wild places. We are known for our remarkable guiding team, serious wildlife viewing and creating camp ownership opportunities for local people.
The Wild Source has a wide range of innovative, responsible tourism programs that focus on enriching the lives of the local people and conserving wildlife and wild lands where we operate safaris. To read about our economic program that is pioneering new standards in the safari industry for local ownership, visit our Disruptive Empowerment page.
In addition to Disruptive Empowerment, we focus on three areas of need: wildlife research and conservation, economic development, and education. Costs to fund these programs come from our bottom line and are not packaged into our proposals as an added cost to clients.
Human/Wildlife Conflict Lion Research in Botswana
Human/wildlife conflict over livestock is the biggest factor in declining African predator populations. The Wild Source’s Bill Given is a leading researcher tackling this huge issue. Bill is a Research Associate of the Denver Zoo and member of the Botswana based Kalahari Research & Conservation program. Bill has been conducting research on African lions and their conflict over cattle. In phase one of our research we have been placing satellite collars on lions that are captured on cattle lands and re-located into protective game reserves/national parks. We then monitor their movements and have documented the poor results of simply moving cattle predating lions.
In our second phase, we are testing a method known as conditioned taste aversion (CTA). The CTA research focuses on treating lions with a carefully constructed beef bait that contains a veterinary medication that makes the predator feel as if it has been food poisoned. The technique is tapping into a sub-conscious evolutionary defense mechanism that exists in all species, and serves to protect against the consumption of a deadly food. After surviving such an event a consumer will avoid the food just based on smell. Bill has worked with captive lions, cougars and Mexican wolves, and in all cases the CTA method has caused them to cease to eat a food based on smell. There is no doubt that this evolutionary defense mechanism exists. The research question is: Can we mimic nature well enough to use the CTA process as a viable management tool to mitigate predator conflict with livestock?
Tanzania Big Cat Research
Our biologists in the field in Tanzania are doing research on cheetahs and providing observational data to leading organizations. We are determining how to identify each individual in the field by utilizing spot and/or whisker patterns. Each big cat sighting is marked by recording GPS coordinates so we can determine ranges and favorite haunts for individuals. We are also studying the hunting behavior of the big cats and evaluating potential impacts of the tourism industry.
We have partnered with Image Based Ecological Information System (IBEIS) on the development of a cheetah recognition software program. IBEIS is a group founded by professors from Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and University of Illinois – Chicago. This team has perfected stripespotter software that can identify individual zebra and giraffe. Next up IBEIS wanted to test their software for identification of cheetah. The Wild Source biologists photograph each cheetah from different sides and document unique spot patterns to definitively identify individuals. Our team provides IBEIS with baseline profiles of the cheetah that we have identified. To test the program we submit a collection of random photos of cheetah contributed by our guests. The software then can be tested to see how successfully it can match photos to our known cheetah.
Creating Wildlife Biologist Jobs
We are the first and only safari operator employing and training local wildlife biologists in both Tanzania and Kenya. Sosy Maira and Fadhil Magoye, both of whom now guide safaris full time for The Wild Source, started out as our first class of wildlife biologists based at Njozi Camp researching the big cats of Ndutu and Serengeti. Young biologists David Maira and Yusuf Magoye are currently based at Njozi Camp, along with biologist trainee Winnie Laudislaus. In Kenya, we are employing and training wildlife biologist Sialo (Sarah) Shonko.
We created these positions because we saw a glaring need for job opportunities for new graduates in wildlife studies in the countries where we work. As detailed above our staff wildlife biologists in Tanzania are researching the big cats in the Ndutu/Serengeti region.
The Wild Source founder, big cat researcher Bill Given, has trained the wildlife biologists and our new team is also being trained by their predecessors, Fadhil and Sosy. The Wild Source pays the researchers’ salaries and hosts them at Njozi Camp, providing accommodation, meals, and all the supplies and logistical support they need to conduct research.
Tanzania Guide Internship Program
Zambia Student Sponsorships
The Wild Source currently sponsors three Zambian students for their secondary education. Esnart is at Mfuwe Day Secondary School, while Jere and Matthews are fully supported at top Zambian boarding schools. We maintain these sponsorships through the non-profit, Charity Begins at Home, in conjunction with The Bushcamp Company. Much focus is on supporting Mfuwe Day, the only secondary school near South Luangwa National Park. Mfuwe Day has benefitted from construction doubling class rooms, providing dormitories and meal programs. Every guest who visits the Bushcamp Company contributes to the Luangwa Conservation and Community Fund—a daily fee of $10 per person—which funds anti-poaching efforts inside of the national park and also finances community initiatives. While a visit to the Bushcamps results in a direct contribution, there are many ways to get involved including a visit to the school. The program has increased from 100 sponsored students to 350, and has just begun a sponsorship program for college and vocational schooling. Esnart, featured here, supports her disabled father, as well as attends school full time. Through our sponsorship, she no longer walks the 6 miles to school every day after receiving her bicycle. She also receives a lunch meal through the 700 Day Scholars feeding program. She aspires to become a math teacher.