African adventure awaits local teacher
Every year an estimated 30,000 elephants are killed for their ivory. Carved into trinkets and ornaments the bloody trade leaves a trail of devastation and orphaned elephants that, without help, rarely survive in the wild.
This August, Andrew White, a teacher at Dane Court Grammar School in Broadstairs and education advisor for the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) will set out on an epic cycle across Zambia with his cousins Seb and Dominic Loram. They will be cycling 550km across Zambia to raise funds and awareness for the Elephant Orphanage Project – the only facility of its kind in the country that helps rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned elephants back into the wild while working with local communities to mitigate human elephant conflict and engender a wider environmental understanding.
Nestled deep within Zambia’s Kafue National Park (KNP) is Camp Phoenix, the rehabilitation and release facility of the Elephant Orphanage Project. A David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Game Rangers International (GRI) initiative, the facility is run by project manager Rachael Murton and her team, who lovingly prepare the animals to return to the wild. Alongside this runs the equally important educational awareness programme which is vital in the battle to protect the wider environment and the wildlife that lives within it. Currently reaching about 3,000 students, Andrew hopes that funds raised from his cycle will help broaden the educational impact of the project, not only in Zambia and the UK, but eventually on a global scale.
“It’s a big dream, but with the energy and enthusiasm that comes from DSWF and Kate Brill and her education team in Zambia, I feel that it’s possible. All I need is some help from sponsors and supporters,” says Andrew.
The cycle ride will take Andrew and his two cousins from the thunder of Victoria Falls north through the Kafue National Park to the project’s release facility, before heading east to their newly opened elephant nursery in Lilayi – just outside Lusaka – and then on to the lower Zambezi under the scorching heat of the Africa sun. The ride is being backed by Olympic Gold Medallist, Joanna Rowsell.
“It takes a lot of hard work and determination and I am full of admiration for Andrew and his team for taking on the challenge of cycling across Zambia,” says Joanna. “I wish them all the best of luck!”
“Our aim is to raise £20,000 so we’re open to any offers of support through sponsorship – either personal or corporate. We’re hugely grateful for support already received from Ripples of Canterbury and The Dental Surgery in Broadstairs, but there’s plenty of scope for more!” says Andrew.
Elephants may seem a long way from Kent but the wider environmental effect of the loss of large mammals in the wild could have a devastating impact on the planet’s eco-system. As environmentalist and David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation supporter, Saba Douglas-Hamilton says: “We simply don’t know what impact the loss of a species will have on the bigger picture.”
You can find out more about the Cycle Zambia challenge at www.cyclezambia.co.uk Or see the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation website www.davidshepherd.org for more on the projects they support.