Tag Archives: The Bateleurs

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.

Our Agenda

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.

The Bateleurs is one of the largest environmental, flying, not-for-profit organisations in Africa.

With so much beauty surrounding Southern Africa, the environmental degradation happening in our region is shocking.  Nowhere is this more clearly visible than from the air.

The Bateleurs, a non-profit, Section 21 organisation, with over 130 volunteer pilots and aircraft, offers its beneficiaries, donors and the public the opportunity to view the environment from another perspective – an aerial perspective.  In the past ten years the organisation has co-ordinated hundreds of missions, throughout ten different countries, in support of environmental issues.

In terms of strategic context, The Bateleurs’ mission is well-aligned with the United Nations Millenium Goals;  ensuring environmental sustainability and assisting with the integration of the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes.  The Bateleurs missions are far-reaching in terms of raising public awareness through various media channels, and through providing decision-makers with a range of different aerial perspectives.

By assisting more than 120 beneficiary organisations, including wildlife conservation bodies, government decision-making bodies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and many others dedicated to conservation, The Bateleurs provides decision-makers, researchers, educators, NGOs and the media with information which assists them to make sound environmental decisions.

60% of our missions are for non-profit organisations;  15% are for government and policy-makers;  15% are for media and journalists;  and the remaining 10% are for education, youth and disadvantaged communities. There is no charge to any of these organisations for the environmental missions flown for them by The Bateleurs.

Our missions include identifying illegal mining, roads and housing the Wild Coast, tracking cheetah, wild dog, leopard or elephant in various conservation areas, counting dugong, the giant sable or other rare species, and often assisting groups with aerial surveys that save their personnel hours or even days on the ground.  A rigorous process is in place to review and approve (or not) all flight requests, to monitor missions, and to track all The Bateleurs’ activities.

This increasingly important conservation resource requires funds to remain active.  Since 1998 The Bateleurs has raised more than R2.7 million from corporates, donors, trust funds and philanthropists, not including donations-in-kind. The Bateleurs pilot members and their aircraft provide the equivalent of 70% of the annual budget, and the balance is sourced through fundraising activities.  Our existing management structure is efficient and streamlined, with a highly motivated and passionate Board of Trustees, a growing number of volunteer pilot members, and a salaried staff of one.

We invite all individuals, organisations and donors to partner with The Bateleurs in its ‘flying for the environment in Africa’.

Strategic Context

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.
(Source: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals)

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 People

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.