Our award-winning Odyssey began 25 years ago with the conservation of the endangered black rhinoceros in Zimbabwe. Working together with the Shangaan people and fellow Odyssey advisors, we helped to create the largest rhino sanctuary in Africa to protect this highly threatened species. We were amongst the first to recognize the pivotal role played by local communities in wildlife conservation. We implemented the three pillars of sustainable development long before this principle was recognized worldwide.
In northern Mozambique, we built one of the most-successful community-managed protected areas in Eastern Africa from scratch. The community-led conservation of this exceptional coastal area remains highly effective because we were able to help the local Kimwani to re-establish their stewardship over their natural resources. We successfully combined their traditional knowledge with the latest scientific knowledge and broke the poverty cycles that entangled them, by improving women’s livelihood, health, and education.
As a result of our conservation efforts in northern Mozambique, the area is now considered as a Hot Spot for the planet.
In northern Mozambique, we explored their unique coastal ecosystem that had become inaccessible to the rest of the world during a 30-year civil war. There, we found the last population of coastal elephants, undreamed-of coastal biodiversity and coral reefs unrivalled by their richness, pristine health and resilience to bleaching, that were teeming with endangered marine life – a global heritage the Kimwani people relied upon for their subsistence and that they were eager to protect. Our unrelenting work over the years re-empowered them to manage this natural jewel.
Working with local fishermen and marine scientists alike, we also created the first community-based reef sanctuaries and Community Fish Councils in Mozambique. These proved so successful in protecting marine resources that they are replicated all along the East African coast. The area was a key breeding site for marine turtles and humpback whales in the Western Indian Ocean, and with local fishermen we developed one of the most successful community-led conservation programmes in East Africa.
More than a decade later, it is still protected by local communities and considered as one of the few “Hope Spots” in the world, a place critical to the health of global oceans. Read More..
Our experience with local and indigenous communities over the years has confirmed to us that women are the best agents of change in their communities as well as being the natural custodians of biodiversity.
It has become our mission to empower women to protect their biocultural heritage in other biodiverse areas of the planet for future generations, locally and globally.