Word from the CEO

Yolan Friedmann


When Clive Walker, Neville Anderson, and James Clarke registered the Endangered Wildlife Trust in 1973 with the sole intention, at that time, of addressing the unsustainable trade in Cheetah skins and reversing the decline in this species. They had no idea where it would go or what it would do; they just knew they had to do something to save Cheetahs. 18,250 Days later, give or take a few, the EWT now works across southern and east Africa on more than 50 species of wild animals and plants threatened with extinction and, most important, has successfully reversed the decline in Cheetah across South Africa, which is now the ONLY country in the world with an increasing population size of Cheetah.

This year the Endangered Wildlife Trust commemorates 50 years of conservation excellence. The EWT has achieved remarkable gains for many species, where downward trends in the local populations of Wattled and Grey Crowned Cranes, Piggersgill’s Frogs, the Amathole Toad, and the Riverine Rabbit have joined the Cheetah as species on a pathway to recovery. Not satisfied with just doing this well, the EWT has further trailblazed by developing a range of technologies to safeguard powerlines against bird collisions and electrocutions, to deploy drones for safe and effective conservation-based activities, and to introduce the first wildlife detection dogs for rhino horn in many points of entry and exit in South Africa. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and throughout our Golden Anniversary year, we will share many stories of success and tales of triumph.

With more than 110 staff members working across 13 countries in Africa, the EWT is arguably one of the most effective and impactful conservation organisations in the region, and we certainly work across the widest diversity of species, habitats and issues. Often recognised for our role in safeguarding charismatic species like the Wild Dog and Cheetah, the EWT was one of the first organisations to galvanise serious conservation action for the entire range of vultures found in our region, and our 50 years of working with this group of eco-cleaning scavengers have taken a continental direction where our impact has been felt in almost every range state for African vultures and across the most significant threats such as poisoning and illegal trade. Less known to many people is the key role that the EWT played in preventing the extinction of the Brenton Blue Butterfly and safeguarding the future of one of the region’s most important centres of endemism: the Soutpansberg Mountain range. In recent years we have taken on the plight of reptiles and even some highly threatened plants. Just as important are the thousands of human lives improved by the work of the EWT through job creation, education, empowerment, resource protection and provision, livelihood creation and empowerment to take control of their environment and their futures.

There is a lot to celebrate, but no time to waste. What would you do if you were Clive, James or Neville today? What species in peril would prompt YOU to start a movement and establish a giant that will, in 2073, be saving those species and so many more? Pop us a comment below or tell us on our socials what you would do for nature!

If this is what the EWT has achieved so far, imagine what we can STILL do and how much we can still achieve. This is the theme for commemorating the EWT’s five decades of conservation in action. We will reflect on our past successes as much as we imagine the world ahead and plan for the milestones we want to achieve in future celebrations. In many ways, our work has just begun, and with the world continuing to reduce wildlife populations and destroy wild places, the Endangered Wildlife Trust is needed more than ever.

With your support, we can achieve even greater things and protect all our futures together. We cannot wait to celebrate our birthday with you, so watch the EWT socials, publications, and website for all the details and ways YOU can be part of the story we write for the next fifty…..

Happy Birthday, EWT.

Yolan Friedmann