The last two years have been extremely tough for everyone the world over. The conservation sector, in particular, has had to endure huge losses in tourism, dramatic cut backs in operating budgets, and sadly redundancies too.
With the early signs of the world emerging from the pandemic, we were thrilled that so many leading conservationists and Tusk partners were able to join us for the Tusk Symposium in the Maasai Mara. The theme for this important gathering was appropriately ‘Building Resilience in African Conservation.’
The impetus for our inaugural symposium held in Cape Town in 2017 came from Tusk’s Royal Patron, Prince William. It had become clear that each year the finalists attending the Tusk Conservation Awards were enjoying the opportunity to meet some other amazing men and women working across Africa but, more importantly, they were benefitting hugely from sharing both their challenges and solutions with each other. In 2019, we held a larger gathering at the Mount Kenya Safari Club. We were excited and proud to be able to host our third such symposium this year at the iconic Sarova Mara Game Camp in Kenya.
The symposium as an event leverages the inherent value from all our delegates sharing their extraordinary knowledge, collective experience and expertise. Many of our partners work in remote and challenging environments where the opportunity to meet and learn about innovative techniques and alternative ideas being applied elsewhere may be rare. While we have all recently become adept at meeting on Zoom, it’s no substitute to meeting and spending time with each other in person.
This year’s event demonstrated that the Covid-19 pandemic has tested all of our partners in ways that they might not have expected. However, through determination, resilience and an increased push to engage with local communities, they have all come out stronger as a result.
The symposium was an opportunity to share how deeply we all care for Africa, its wildlife, landscapes and people. I truly believe that we owe it to ourselves and our supporters to share our collective knowledge and work together to protect the continent’s extraordinary biodiversity. It was heartening to see our speakers and delegates approach the agenda with open minds and a true willingness to collaborate, using their incredible reservoir of knowledge to strengthen the conservation sector across the African continent.
To enable ongoing collaboration beyond the symposium, we gave our delegates the opportunity to submit funding proposals that would enable them to continue to share knowledge through exchanges of personnel. 72% of the delegates in attendance submitted proposals and I’m pleased to say that Tusk will be funding every single one of these, meaning 19 grants will be provided for 28 projects to travel and learn from one another.
*We are hugely indebted to The Nick Maughan Foundation, our lead sponsor, for generously making this entire event possible. We would also like to acknowledge the kind contribution from Land Rover, who have provided all the ground transport.