Africa Campaign - Poaching Research & Monitoring program (Initiating June 2017 - Ongoing)
Benjamin Smale is part of the Africa campaign. Since early Ben shared a deep compassion for nature and wildlife. At the age on nine he broke into his piggy bank to make his first donation to a WWF conservation project. After finishing University Ben worked for different development projects in Afghanistan and South Africa. From 2008 onwards Ben observed South Africa’s increasing rhino death toll with growing concern. After the number of illegally killed rhinos passed the thousand threshold in 2013 he completed an anti-poaching ranger training and started active patrolling in the Greater Kruger area, which usually consists of 21-day clandestine foot patrols. While working in the nature reserves Ben met Mike on several occasions, including during a rhino poacher pursuit that lasted over 14 hours. Back at the campfire both would frequently contemplate about solutions to the current poaching crisis and share the belief that international donor engagement needs to be better channeled to the realities on the ground. As in other areas of development cooperation donor driven projects run the risk of creating parallel structures and frequently result in a “bubble” with only little impact. This common understanding was one reason why Mike tasked Ben to contribute with knowledge management and impact monitoring. This should secure Global Conservation Force’s claim to continuously innovate and follow conservation approaches that really improve rhino protection on the ground.