Serengeti Watch was founded in 2010 in response to the proposed construction of a commercial highway through Serengeti National Park, a development that would have fragmented the ecosystem and destroyed the migration as we know it. It discovered and sounded the alarm on this major threat. It followed up with a campaign that included petitions by world scientists and individuals around the world, and support of a legal case in the East African Court of Justice.
Serengeti Watch currently has a part-time paid Director and a small operating budget of $15,000-17,000. Its funding to SPF ranges from $30,000-40,000 per year.
Serengeti Watch is a nonprofit organization working through Earth Island Institute, its fiscal sponsor in Berkeley, CA. Earth Island Institute is an established and respected conservation organization in the US.
Funding has come from three sources: Individual donors, small foundation grants, and income from tour companies and travelers through Friends of Serengeti, a project of Serengeti Watch.
There are nearly a thousand individual donors around the world who have supported our work. There are approximately 10,000 active followers on an email list who receive regular updates. In addition, several posts per week reach 10,000-20,000 people on Facebook, which has a total following of nearly 80,000 worldwide.
Small Foundation Grants
Serengeti Watch has received several grants of $5,000-$10,000 from Minara Foundation, Global Greengrants Fund, and others.
Friends of Serengeti
Serengeti Watch founded Friends of Serengeti (FOS), an organization of tour companies in the US who pay annual dues and ask their travelers to contribute to conservation. (www.friendsofserengeti.org) Though small, it is already beginning to generate funding. Income from this source is currently $10-12,000 a year.
FOS is patterned after a similar organization for the Galapagos Islands (www.igtoa.org), founded by Serengeti Watch Co-Director, David Blanton, which has raised more than $1 million for Galapagos conservation. IGTOA received support from Conservation International for traveler education videos, but is otherwise self-funding.
Tour companies join because they see a way to support conservation, but also because it is a way to show potential travelers that they care about the environment. This is especially true for nature tour companies whose clients are actively seeking responsible tour operators. Tour companies are encouraged to either ask their travelers to contribute, or in some cases companies include a line item in the travel invoice, which travelers can choose to pay or not. In such cases, most include the donation.
Mission, Vision, Values
The mission of Serengeti Watch is to build lasting protection of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem by and for the people of East Africa.
The Serengeti ecosystem, or Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, is composed of the Serengeti National Park and adjoining protected areas in Tanzania, including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In Kenya, it includes the Masai Mara Reserve and the surrounding Greater Mara. All of these areas are part of a whole, critical to the ecosystem that we will simply term, the Serengeti.
Our mission is focused on, though not limited to, Tanzania. Whenever possible, support will carry over into Kenya through cooperation with NGO’s there.
- Wilderness is vital to human life and needs protection
- Development and conservation must work together
- Solutions must come from the ground up
- Local people must be able to benefit from conservation
- Existential threats to the Serengeti are building and will increase, especially as human population soars.
- We still have an opportunity to build lasting support, but time is running and a sense of urgency is needed.
- International support is important but will not be sufficient. Conservation must be built from the ground up.
- An important way to inoculate against the vicissitudes of bad policies and destructive politics is to provide strong and widespread support among ordinary citizens.
Strategy: Build Worldwide Support / Fund Local Action
Our strategic approach focuses on Human Ecology, building sustained awareness and action for preserving the Serengeti, both within and without East Africa.
- Local Support is vital
Our primary role is to build support within Tanzania for Serengeti conservation. For this reason, Serengeti Watch sponsored and funded the establishment of the Serengeti Preservation Foundation (SPF) a Tanzanian registered NGO. SPF coordinates all local education and advocacy work, and funds raised by Serengeti Watch are used to support the activities of SPF
Other organizations focus on scientific research, anti-poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and sometimes community outreach. What is needed now is an integrated, long-term plan to address the human side of the equation.
Education coupled with modern media, can help transfer a set of values from one generation to the next. People need to see how their natural heritage relates to their history, wellbeing, and future. Serengeti Preservation Foundation does this through education, training, media development, curriculum design, public outreach, and social networking.
- Outside support is important.
Serengeti Watch itself has no physical presence in East Africa, and this gives it greater independence. We have more freedom to use social media to rally world opinion, launch petitions to influence government policy, and even support legal cases in the East African court system if necessary.
Many outside Africa have a strong interest in the Serengeti. We keep them informed. Their support has a role to play, especially funding. Outside support also includes the international travel industry, which Serengeti Watch is doing.
Build Local Capacity & Support for Serengeti Preservation Foundation
- Help to build the Serengeti Preservation Foundation
- Provide input in the design of programs
- Fund SPF programs
- Look for outside funding for SPF
- Help evaluate and evolve programs
Monitoring and Advocacy
- Watch for critical threats to the ecosystem
- Monitor change for large scale development
- Build international followers through social media and news alerts
- Rally international opinion and pressure if needed
- Support legal action in EA against projects that would damage ecosystem
- Advocate for local communities around the Serengeti
- Work with other NGOs to strengthen transboundary environmental and legal protection in the East African community
- Enlarge our donor base
- Conduct fundraising campaigns among supporters
- Channel funds to Serengeti Preservation Foundation programs and monitor
Build Travel Industry Support and Funding
- Build international travel industry support
- Engage travelers in conservation and funding
Support Family Planning & Women’s Education
- Find ways to approach family planning in communities around the Serengeti
- Help build a coalition of support among organizations and stakeholders
- Look for partners to carry out programs
- Fund programs