Adopting Change. Make a difference without leaving the house.

You don’t have to be on the frontline of conservation to make a positive impact on the environment. You can make a difference without leaving the house.

My article on just this for Travel Update. Issue 9. For your ease, included below.




‘Being inspired by the work of conservationists and communities across the globe, and sharing the details in a bid to create awareness is a start. But is it enough? How do we turn our altruistic keyboard warrior tendencies to making a real difference. Here are some simple ways to invest in change.

1. Adopt an Orphaned Elephant.

Incredible to imagine that an elephant is killed every 15 minutes, and in Kenya, a country once recognised as protector of these gentle giants, more than 7 tons of ivory was seized last year. Today, anybody who buys ivory has blood on their hands. See

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was founded in 1977 to offer hope for the future of these threatened elephant populations that bear the cost. Over the years successfully hand-raising 150 infant elephants and achieving their conservation goal of reintegrating them back into the wild.

Of the babies currently in care at Nairobi’s DSWT, 80% are casualties of poaching, the rest human-wildlife conflict. But even these lucky few given a second chance don’t always pull through, the trauma of separation and loss, often too great for them. Although passion and hard work prevail and the DSWT continues to break boundaries as the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.

Adopt an elephant, minimum contribution US$ 50 per annum.

Sweet orphan baby coming in for the night at David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage.

2. Fund a Project on KIVA

Kiva is a genius and forward thinking way of supporting emerging entrepreneurs and social programs around the world. Currently with borrowers in more than 80 countries on 5 continents, Kiva allows you to lend money to low-income startups and students. You find the project of interest to you, be it agricultural, tech or educational, in the country of your choice, and fund it.

Field partners do incredible work screening borrowers and their mission is to connect. They all share one thing in common: the desire to improve people’s lives through safe and fair access to credit.

Lenders browse and choose an entrepreneur they wish to fund. The lenders transfer their funds to Kiva through PayPal and once the project has had success and is off the ground, you have the choice of further investing, or being repaid your foundation capital and moving on to the next.

Minimum contribution of US$25 and you get it back.

Malindi Woman’s Project in Kenya.

3. Plant Trees for Travel

For the frequent flier there’s always a tinge of guilt as we try to ignore the fact that long haul flights produce on average twice as many emissions per mile traveled per passenger, than cars. Actually, a Boeing 747 uses about 4 liters of fuel every second, making that 150 000 liters of fuel on a 10 hour flight.

Unlikely to give up the speed or ease of air travel, we can turn to something feel good and tangible instead. Greenpop have implemented their Trees For Travel initiative where you can sponsor a tree, and ease your air mile clocking conscious. Trees sequester carbon, provide habitats, reduce air and water pollution.

One tree costs R120. Plant one every time you fly.

Tree Planting with Greenpop in Zambia.

4. Sponsor a Penguin House

The African penguins are in trouble. Endemic to the South African coast and with a lifespan of between 10-15 years, populations are on a steadily decline. In 1900, it was estimated that about 1.5 million birds lived on Dassen Island alone. There are now only about 18 000 breeding pairs of African penguins left in the world.

The reasons for the rapid decline in population are egg and guano harvesting, reduction in food due to overfishing and pollution. When guano was removed, penguins were forced to nest in the open on the rocky island surface, at the mercy of the elements and of predators, leaving them at high risk of extinction.

One solution comes in the form of artificial nests that provide vitally important shelter for breeding penguins on Dyer Island. Designed to mimic natural guano burrows, the nests minimise exposure to predators and the elements, increasing survival chances for the adults and chicks.

Penguin homes at R500.

5. Adopt a chimpanzee at the Jane Goodall Chimp Eden

We have Jane Goodall to thank for creating awareness around the plight of the chimpanzee in central and east Africa and her influence is far reaching. Extending her care to South Africa, in 2006 Chimp Eden Chimpanzee Sanctuary opened on the 1000 hectare Umhloti Nature Reserve outside Nelspruit.

Carrying her name, the goal of the chimpanzee sanctuary is to rescue chimpanzees that have survived the bush meat trade, been orphaned, traded in the illegal pet market, or being used for entertainment in circuses, beach resorts and nightclubs. The chimpanzees at Chimp Eden are the lucky ones, living out their lives in a risk free environment and being provided with the necessary attention to recover from the trauma they have experienced.

Adoption packages start at R600 a year.

Zee at Chimp Eden.
Rescue Chimp Charlie being vocal at Chimp Eden.

6. Educate a Child

There are many heartwarming projects doing wonderful work in supporting and educating orphaned children throughout Africa. The Lubasi Home in Livingstone is one of them. Providing residential care for orphans and vulnerable children who have no family to look after them, with most orphaned as a result of the AIDS pandemic, which affects about 30% of adults in Livingstone.

Lubasi admits children over 5 years old and aims to care for them until they are able to sustain themselves or are taken into families. Employing mothers to care for the children, they have developed a homely atmosphere, helping with schoolwork, with communal dining and play areas. One of the things to be admired is how the children are supported through their high school years and encouraged to pursue tertiary education.

Run entirely by volunteers, they raise funds and ask for sponsorship for the children. It costs US$150 per child per month for food, board and education, but any contribution is welcome.

Warmly supported by The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Zambia Hotel by Anantara.

A children and their pup at Lubasi House in Livingstone.

 7. Shelter a Rescued Lion

The Dakenstein Lion Park was established in 1998 to provide lions in distress with a sanctuary where they can live free from abuse and persecution and be treated with the compassion and respect they deserve.

Situated in the Cape Winelands on 20ha of adapted lion habitat, the team is committed to improving the quality of life of lions in captivity locally as well as internationally, either by offering these animals a lifetime home or working in conjunction with animal welfare to secure a safe future for individual animals in dire need.

All the animals homed at the Park are captive bred and hand reared and cannot be rehabilitated to the wild. They don’t offer animal interaction and are opposed to captive breeding.

Adoption fees are R1000 per annum.

This brave boy looking us in the eye at the Lion Sanctuary in Paarl.

 8. Adopt a Conscious Attitude

There is much to be said for conscious living, after all little things make a big accumulative difference. Recycle; opt for environmental and animal friendly cleaning and beauty products. Adopt a more vegetarian diet, with meat free days and fish only as recommended by the WWF SASSI sustainability guidelines, are a good start.

Limit plastic bag use, avoid straws, pick up litter, and don’t use bottled water where possible. Also spread the positive word about the many projects worthy of support. That way the change that we think about from home manifests to goodness very far beyond. That way the change that we think about from home, manifests to goodness way beyond.’

Find the rest of Travel Update here.  For more of my Freelance Writing work here.

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Dawn Bradnick Jorgensen
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The Incidental Tourist is a Personal Travel Blog of a conscious traveller with a deep love for Africa, its people and the environment.

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