To paraphrase the famous quote, there are things that we simply don’t understand. But by recognizing this fact, we are able to seek the answers and expand our knowledge. This, of course, is the first step in the journey to knowing and understanding those things that we aren’t even aware of yet.

And, when it comes to conservation, this process is absolutely critical. It is easy, and perhaps  somewhat naive, to assume that most people believe in conservation and understand the complex threats facing rhino, elephant and other vulnerable species. And that these people recognize the zero-sum game we are currently playing in relation to the world’s resources. But, one must never take these things for granted.

That is why raising awareness is so important and why Veterans for Wildlife places such an emphasis on this message in all that we do. Yes, we are focussed on the physical protection of wildlife. Yes, we are looking at ways and means to combat wildlife crime at its source. And, yes, we are wholly committed to supporting the veteran community.

However, two key facts must be acknowledged. Firstly, none of what we do would be possible without the fantastic support of the public and those who provide us with the resources (time, equipment, money and so on), to execute our projects. Secondly, we would struggle to make an impact if we were operating in isolation. For Veterans for Wildlife and the greater conservation project to succeed, we need to communicate our message on a truly global scale. Indeed, we need to change people’s perceptions.

Over and above the very real skills and knowledge that our veteran volunteers have already imparted at ground-level, it is the fact that they come from communities the world over that makes their contribution so important to us. All, bar none, have had eye-opening and life-changing experiences whilst deployed with Veterans for Wildlife. Their understanding of the situation on the ground and the broader issue of wildlife crime has expanded exponentially; and, so equipped, they are better able to inform their own friends, families and communities.

But there is more to our campaign of raising awareness than just the veteran volunteers.

Veterans for Wildlife encourages anyone and everyone who is able, to visit South Africa and the continent. That is why we are so thrilled that, as a result of the highly successful Darren and Anna Gough Golf Day and Gala Dinner, we are able to facilitate three separate groups traveling to our shores in 2018. Thanks to our fantastic sponsors, the groups will experience the best that South Africa has to offer, whilst remaining cognizant of the very real issues at the heart of what we do.

It is our hope that our auction winners will fall in love with South Africa, as so many before them have done. That they will spend money and support local businesses. That they will get to know and understand the local people and cultures. And, most importantly of all, that when they return home they will help spread the message of what is happening here and what others like them can do to help.