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Objective of the flight:

The promotion of the need to start engaging communities in anti-poaching activities by reporting crimes and by educating them on how poaching is a community issue.

Pilots:  John Waterson & Bruce McDonald

Aircraft:  Savannah & Bathawk

Beneficiary:  Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme / Endangered Wildlife Trust Partnership

Traditional conservation approaches to combatting poaching and the illegal wildlife trade have not led to the results which many in the sector have wanted or anticipated. During 2015 the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) in partnership with Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP) implemented a first of its kind project, “Hayi Laa!” that integrated community education on both wildlife crime and social crimes (such as gender based violence) in the rural village of Hluvukani in Mpumalanga (known for high levels of wildlife crime). A community run stakeholder forum which looks at all forms of crime (wildlife crime and the social crimes which impact community members more directly) was established.

In addition to working with South African Police Service, the Magistrate, Chief and community leaders, 800 community members spent five whole days learning their rights and responsibilities in relation to wildlife and social crime and the reporting thereof. Evidence shows, from related projects, that a critically important activity is the pledge ceremony at the end of the project during which those who have been through the workshops make a public declaration to no longer tolerate crime in their village, to report crime and to support those who do. Given that the village witnessed this pledge, it was thought that this was a critical step in giving community members the confidence to know that they will be supported in reporting crime. The pledge ceremony was opened by the Chief and the British High Commissioner (or Deputy High Commissioner) and a fly-past was requested from The Bateleurs to mark this event and to maximize publicity for the project and model.  A community member who was selected by the community as the bravest person to stand up and fight crime accompanied the pilot.