Introduction to The Bateleurs
The Bateleurs came into being in 1998 as a result of a flight over the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park by South African conservationist, Nora Kreher. Nora was inspired by seeing the added benefits which an aerial perspective can bring to any stakeholder charged with making critical environmental decisions. Gathering together her many pilot contacts, Nora founded The Bateleurs in order to fly missions for conservation and the environment. Today the organisation comprises approximately 130 volunteer pilot members, each with their own light aircraft, all of whom are dedicated to preserving the environment. This is achieved by flying missions at the request of a broad range of beneficiary organisations or individuals who need an aerial perspective of the issue they are assessing or addressing.
Our volunteer pilots donate their own aircraft and time to fly these missions, thereby contributing 70% of the organisation’s operational costs. In recent years. The Bateleurs has flown between 50 and 75 missions per year, and by the end of 2008 The Bateleurs had flown for 112 different beneficiary agencies.
A dedicated Board of Directors, also all volunteers, manages the operations of the organisation which are co-ordinated by one full-time staff member.
The Bateleurs is incorporated under Section 21, Registration No. 98/1783/08 and enjoys the status of a Public Benefit Organisation, Reference No. PBO 930009099. All donations to The Bateleurs can be treated as a tax deductible expense.
The United Nations Millenium Goals lists ‘Ensuring Environmental Sustainability’ as one of its eight key initiatives for 2015. Two of these targets are directly related to The Bateleurs’ mission: integrating the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes to reverse the loss of environmental resources; and achieving a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
The UN Millenium Goals are a driving force for government policy in most countries. These initiatives have become part of most government policy in Southern Africa, and their targets are incorporated into each country’s own goals.
Yet, preserving the environment is more than just government policy. In the words of writer David Quammen of National Geographic, Africa Issue, September 2005:
‘But remember one thing: The survival of Africa’s wildlife hasn’t depended
on an absence of people. It has happened, to the contrary, amid constant
human presence. We ourselves are an African species, at least by origin . . .
The animals adjusted to our presence – to our slowly but radically increasing capabilities – even as we adapted to life among them . . .
Killing wildlife, extinguishing species, and destroying habitat are easy with
our current weapons and tools. Preserving the last of the great beasts in their landscapes, despite human needs and pressures roundabout, is more difficult.
But wait, here’s a thought, unabashedly hopeful and wild as an aardvark: Maybe modern Africa is where we can rediscover how its done.’
It is in the modern African context that The Bateleurs operates, measuring man’s impact on the earth, showing and educating those who can make a difference to preserving our habitat, and the diversity within it.
Our Beneficiaries and Missions
In line with the many and diverse advantages of an aerial perspective, over the years The Bateleurs has supported an extensive list of beneficiaries with a wide-ranging (and sometimes surprising) list of objectives: counting cranes’ eggs in nests, from the air, comes to mind.
60% of missions are for conservation or environmental NGOs.
15% of missions are for government and policy-makers within government
and related agencies.
15% of missions are for representatives of the media, engaged with documentary
research and/or investigative journalism.
10% of missions are for the youth and affected communities in respect of various environmental matters.
All flight requests are reviewed by the full Board of Directors, and there must be a minimum of three positive responses before a flight request can be approved.
The Bateleurs as an Organisation
The Bateleurs functions within a simple but effective structure. For the first ten years its founder, Nora Kreher, kept a firm hand on the tiller, and since her death in 2008 the Board of Directors has assumed her responsibilities and employed one full-time staff member.
The Board comprises eleven members – ten South Africans and one person living abroad. These individuals, all volunteers, bring diverse capabilities and experience to the oversight and direction of the organisation.
The Bateleurs is supported by two Patrons, both of whom are internationally- recognised environmentalists
In addition, twelve national and international experts in specific areas of conservation and/or environmental preservation act as Advisors to the organisation, and are called on for advice as and when necessary.
Missions co-ordination and office management are handled by one full-time staff member who is responsible for all the various day-to-day activities of the organisation.