CPW ships boxes of donated conservation items to wildlife officers in Africa
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – In recent weeks, large boxes packed with work pants, boots, shirts, socks, belts, spotting scopes, binoculars, backpacks and much more left the loading dock of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeast Region office bound for Africa.
They are part of a nine-state project to donate gear to conservation officers in six African nations, working in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. State Department and the Wild Tomorrow Fund, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to protecting threatened and endangered species and the habitats they depend on for survival.
Frank McGee, CPW area wildlife manager, brought the idea back from a leadership program last fall at the National Conservation Training Center attended by conservation officers from 30 other state agencies as well as conservation agencies from 12 African nations.
“I learned a great deal about the struggles our African counterparts face on a daily basis,” McGee said. “As it is in the United States, conservation of natural resources can be complicated in Africa. In some countries there, things are pretty bleak.”
Sorting through boxes of donated items on the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeast Region loading dock are Kimberly Sams, left, administrative assistant for Area 14, and Brianna Fett, right, the region’s education and volunteer intern. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Bill Vogrin
One classmate asked if they would accept donations and what, exactly, they needed. It turned out their needs were pretty basic, McGee said. So he got permission from Dan Prenzlow, manager of CPW’s Southeast Region, to gather obsolete law enforcement items to donate to conservation officers in Africa.
“Our agency is dedicated to preserving wildlife and if we can help further that cause in Africa by donating old or obsolete items, I’m all for it,” Prenzlow said.
McGee asked his CPW colleagues to search their storage lockers for gear they no longer use and consider donating it. Soon, the CPW loading dock was stacked high with gear. As shipments from CPW and other state wildlife agencies started landing in Africa, Wild Tomorrow Fund staff reported they were having an immediate impact improving morale.
Items donated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeast Region are displayed by John Steward, executive director of the New York-based nonprofit Wild Tomorrow Fund, and Richard Penn-Sawyers, conservation manager for several of the Ezemvelo wildlife reserves. They posed at Ezemvelo’s Tembe Elephant Park wildlife preserve on the border of Mozambique. Photo courtesy Wild Tomorrow Fund.
The International Conservation Chiefs Academy (ICCA) hopes projects like this strengthen global law enforcement relationships to combat illegal wildlife trafficking. The ICCA works with 18 African nations and next year will add seven Southeast Asian countries.
CPW, alongside federal agencies, hosted 42 African conservation officials in Denver as they visited the U.S. in mid-September. Training programs included: adaptive leadership, peer group problem solving sessions, anti-corruption practices, relationship building, wildlife trafficking trends, forensics, evidence and inventory management, working across cultural differences and more.
Unidentified African wildlife conservation officers at Ezemvelo’s Ndumo reserve try on the shorts and pants delivered from U.S. counterparts including the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Southeast Region. Photo courtesy Wild Tomorrow Fund.
“Colorado Parks and Wildlife is committed to conserving our wildlife resources here at home, and contributing to the global fight against wildlife trafficking,” Prenzlow said. “The criminals who illegally trade in wildlife and wildlife parts operate across borders. So it is imperative that agencies like Colorado Parks and Wildlife cooperate across borders to fight them and catch them.”
CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW’s work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.