African conservation, animals, Annabel Ruffell, Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge, Clive Stockil, community-based conservation, conservation, ecosystem, Journey for Earth, Lifetime Achievement Award, nature, Rhinos, sustainable conservation, The Prince William Award, Tourism, Tusk Trust, wildlife, wildlife conservation, Zimbabwe
My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a global awareness company committed to inspiring change for humanity, the environment and animals, one choice at a time.
I first learned of Clive Stockil while watching a BBC program a couple of weeks ago with my father. His dedication and commitment to African conservation was so inspiring and amazing I knew I had to contact him. He has been called “one of Africa’s great conservation pioneers.”
He is the founding father of Chilo Gorge Safari Lodge and the senior guide and wildlife expert.
His career spans 40 years and in 1992 he helped create Zimbabwe’s biggest private reserve in the Save Valley in the the south-east of the country, which is now home to one of the biggest rhino populations in Africa.
Clive was born in the area and qualified as a Zimbabwean Professional Guide in 1973. Clive has always been passionate about the African bush and his first memories are of his adventures in the Zimbabwean wilderness in search of new and exciting flora and fauna. Clive continues to build on the knowledge acquired from these early journeys and he is universally renowned as an authority on the lowveld communities and their wildlife.
How did your love of wildlife and the African bush begin?
I consider it a privilege to have been born in a wild environment. My early childhood was spent close to nature and my parents were an inspiration to me, both had a keen love of the wilderness we lived in. I was fortunate to have spent the first nine years of my life with Xangaan playmates and peers, learning their language and cultures. This later became a great asset in the work I chose, that of community-based conservation.
How and when did your passion for conservation begin? Where did your work start?
A love for nature, and the balance of ecosystems. I soon realised that pursuance of pure conservation on a continent where there is a continuing demand for land/space would not succeed. To achieve long term and sustainable conservation, a balance was needed which recognised human needs.
Both these projects are situated within fifty kilometres of where I was born.
Rhino are an important component of the ecosystem, due to their sudden decline in numbers in recent years, created by human greed. It became clear that we needed to establish a flag ship species in our effort to add value to the land/space needed to conserve large wilderness landscapes for the benefit of other species.
What do you see in the future for the wildlife?
In some of the low rainfall areas of Zimbabwe, traditional agriculture and domestic livestock production is not sustainable. The land use option considered by the Save Valley Conservancy where annual average rainfall is less the 500 mm, clearly showed that a multi-species wildlife program achieved greater ecological sustainability. This would produce a quality wildlife attraction and through tourism meet economic needs for ongoing conservation costs and contribute to community livelihoods.
What has been the most challenging setback during your career?
The 1992 drought, this was the worst drought recorded living memory, supplementary feeding programs had to be managed to save both human life and to keep viable populations of all the effected wildlife species.
Dealing with bureaucracy at National, Provincial and district levels. Getting consensus in changing land use from commercial agriculture to wildlife/tourism.
What has been your greatest success?
Turning conflict to cooperation between the Mahenye community and the Gonarezhou National Park, pioneering the principals of the (CAMPFIRE) program, (Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources) .
Participating in the rehabilitation of 350.000 hectares of degraded land.
There is no end, therefore no next, improving on what has been started.
Why do you believe community-based conservation is so important?
In Africa, aesthetic values are a luxury. If we as humans are to share this space and achieve environmental and species conservation. we all have to participate in the process. Communities are part of the system, without their support conservation of natural resources will fail.
How can people help conservation and the fight against wildlife crime?
Awareness at all levels, global level and national level. Governments need to deal with corruption and to review penalties, legislating laws that will reduce the will to poach .
Give the environment a value.
Tourism travelers should research and identify tourist facilities that embrace and implement sustainable conservation. Wildlife needs to meet conservation costs, communities need to perceive a value in sharing this finite space, if we are going to successfully protect these priceless wilderness areas, which are no longer just national, but are global assets.
What Journey are YOU on?